By Amir Mir

Aston Villa owner Tony Xia has paid his appreciation to Stiliyan Petrov after the club decided against offering him a playing contract.

On Wednesday evening the club announced on its website that the ex-Bulgarian international had failed to land a playing contract after making a brave return from illness.

The ex-Celtic and Villa captain was diagnosed with leukaemia in 2012 which forced him to retire from the game, but after a brave bid to return to playing duties, Xia said the club has offered Petrov a role in a different capacity.

Petrov participated in the club’s pre-season tour of Austria where they faced minnows GAK, and featured against non-league side Worcester.

Manager Roberto Di Matteo and his coaching staff had to make a tough decision regarding the popular player as they gear up for the forthcoming Championship season.

Ex-Villa striker turned pundit Stan Collymore also paid a warm tribute to the 36-year-old as Villa now look to put the nightmare season of 2015-16 behind them.

The Villa supporters will be hoping the Holte End hero takes on a new role at the club as they look for instant promotion back to the Premier League.

In other Aston Villa team news, this academy graduate is hoping to break into the first-team after a number of loan spells in the past few seasons.