By Amir Mir

Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos has revealed his respect for Aston Villa midfielder Stiliyan Petrov following his return to football after battling cancer.

Petrov was diagnosed with acute leukaemia in March 2012 which forced him to retire from the game 14 months later, but the ex-Villa captain has since made a remarkable return.

The 37-year-old is training with the Championship club and made a comeback by playing in the second half of their 8-0 friendly win over Austrian side GAK 1802.

Two-time Champions League winner Ramos tweeted his admiration for the former Bulgaria international as he responded to a post on Villa’s official Twitter account which showed Petrov in action during pre-season.

The Real Madrid and Spain captain lauded Petrov as a ‘true sportsman and fighter’ on his personal Twitter account.

Petrov is now aiming to earn a professional contract with the Midlands club three years after his retirement.

He is currently on pre-season with the club in Austria and will play on a non-contract basis for a month with a view to earning a new deal.

The ex-Celtic man signed for the former European Champions in the summer of 2006 from the Scottish giants for then-manager Martin O’Neill and went on to captain the side for many years.

After making 218 appearances for the club, he was diagnosed with the disease after a league fixture against Arsenal- he has since set-up a foundation to help those suffering with the same disease.

In other Aston Villa news, Idrissa Gana has had his £7.1million release clause triggered by a French club as he looks for a move away from Villa Park.