By Tom Blackburn

Saturday afternoon saw Stiliyan Petrov play his first game of football in four years after recovering from cancer – and fans of all teams took to Twitter to salute an amazing recovery.

The former Celtic player and Aston Villa captain was diagnosed with leukaemia in 2012 which forced him to retire from the game, but he returned to training with Villa this week.

Petrov will now step up his pursuit of earning a Villa contract as the club head out to their pre-season tour of Austria this month. There is no surprise that many fans feel he should be given a permeant deal.

Petrov played the second half of Saturday’s 8-0 friendly over Austrian sixth-tier club GAK 1902.

Many Villa fans on Twitter expressed how the 35-year-old is an inspirational figure after winning his battle and returning to the game.

Perhaps a greater sign of the influence that Petrov’s story is having was the response from footballs’ wider community, with fans of all clubs, including rivals Birmingham tweeting their hope that the veteran is given an opportunity to keep on playing.

In other Aston Villa news, their key man drops a hint about his future after a bad time.