By Dominic Toner
Stiliyan Petrov has explained that he was bitterly disappointed after Aston Villa opted not to offer him a contract.
The former Villa player, who recently beat his battle with leukaemia, trained with the team over the summer as he eyed a return to football.
Fan favourite Petrov was returning to full fitness by training with his old team and was hopeful of being offered a deal by the club he once captained.
Villa boss Roberto Di Matteo opted against handing Petrov a new contract as he built his squad for the Championship season.
Petrov explained his return to Jim White on talkSport in an interview and admitted he was shattered by the club’s decision.
“I don’t hold any grudges, I don’t have any bad feelings towards them but I won’t lie, I was very disappointed I wasn’t offered anything,” he told talkSPORT. “Why I wasn’t offered, I don’t know. It wasn’t explained to me. They just told me I wouldn’t be a part of [the team]. They offered me a job in the youth system, but I didn’t want that. I wanted to finish as a footballer.
“Why? Because my career was taken away from me by a disease, and I want to finish as a footballer again. I even didn’t want to get paid, I just wanted to finish as a footballer, to be able to retire on my terms.;
He added: “I think I deserved a little bit more time. If I had a bit more time I would have made it. I would have gotten fitter, stronger. I was close.
“I didn’t miss a training session and that was the important bit for me. I sat down with Roberto Di Matteo and thanked him for the opportunity to be part of it again. He wants to build his own team and I can understand that. I am disappointed and it really hurt me, but life goes on.”
Petrov won the club’s Player of the Year on two occasions and went into a coaching role with Villa in 2015 for a short spell.
He made over 200 appearances for the Midlands club and led them to a sixth-placed finish in the Premier League in his first season with the captain’s armband.
The former Celtic man also lifted two league title in Scotland and earned 82 caps for the Scottish giants before moving to Villa Park.
Villa have endured a difficult start to the new season as they aim to seal an automatic return to the top-flight, earning just seven points in as many games this campaign.
In other Aston Villa news, the club’s fans reacted on Twitter after Mark Albrighton scored in the Champions League.