By Alex Taylor
Stilliyan Petrov has admitted his disappointment at not being offered a new contract with Aston Villa – and there has been a mixed reaction from fans to the midfielder’s heartache.
The midfielder joined Villa in 2006 and was hoping to return to Villa Park as a player before retiring.
Fan favourite Petrov was nearing 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 rebuilt his squad for the Championship season.
Supporters on social media were divided over the news, with some fans saying he should not be given any sympathy while others called the club a disgrace for their actions.
Here are a collection of some of the messages on Twitter:
it is a business as harsh as it is, no time for sympathy
— michael pearson (@MichaelPearson0) September 15, 2016
@chris_sutton73 disgrace by villa with a team full of empty jerseys here's a player that loves the club. Regardless of standard.
— Jake Mcginlay (@TheBhoyJM) September 15, 2016
they're not a charity, football is cutthroat
— Paul (@paulw4ke) September 15, 2016
disgrace to treat him that way
— David Lace (@davidpatrickla1) September 15, 2016
— Samedo_afc (@redarmy93) July 22, 2016
The Aston Villa legend was offered a new role as part of the club’s academy but rejected the opportunity.
Petrov finishes his career having played 302 games, scoring 26 goals and providing 22 assists.