Stiliyan Petrov has made his first Aston Villa appearance in more than four years after recovering from cancer. The 37-year old Bulgarian played the second half as Villa eased to an 8-0 victory over Austrian side GAK. 

In March 2012, Petrov was diagnosed with acute leukaemia, suspending his football career to have treatment. He eventually announced his retirement from football on 9 May 2013. After successfully completing his treatment, the Bulgarian international revealed in April 2016 that he was training with Villa’s Under-21 side with a view to returning to the professional game.

In June it was announced that he would be training with the first team during their pre-season tour of Austria, on a non-contractual basis. Aston Villa manager Roberto Di Matteo had encouraging words to share about Petrov’s return saying that his actions have been an example of willingness and bravery to everybody in the camp. Petrov will now hope that he can do enough to be in the manager’s plans and earn a contract for the new season.