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Stiliyan Petrov is the recipient of the 2013 FIFPro Merit Award. The world professional footballers’ association donates $25,000 to the Stilyan Petrov Foundation.

Stiliyan Petrov is a 34-year-old former professional footballer who played for CSKA Sofia, Celtic and Aston Villa. He made 106 appearances for the Bulgarian national team. In March 2012, the midfielder was diagnosed with acute leukaemia and had to end his career to have treatment.

Since being diagnosed with acute leukaemia, Stiliyan came to understand the way in which this disease impacts the lives of so many people. In October 2013, the Stiliyan Petrov Foundation was established. Its aim is to help address the issues involved when people are diagnosed with leukaemia.

Among other things, the Stiliyan Petrov Foundation supports research into serious diseases such as leukaemia, and it also supports seriously ill patients’ families with travel accommodation.

Mila Hristova, representative of the Bulgarian professional footballers’ association ABF collected the award during the FIFPro General Assembly in Ljubljana (Slovenia) on behalf of Stiliyan Petrov. The former player could not attend the ceremony, as his doctor had advised him not to travel due to his recent treatment. Instead, Petrov send a video message to thank the FIFPro congress.

‘A big thank you for making a donation to my foundation, that will make a big difference for the work that I am trying to do. This is magnificent’, Petrov said.

‘I am trying to look after people with bad diseases. I found out – when I first learned about my disease – how important it is to have a family there with you. Now I want to take care that all parents can be there, when their children are receiving treatment for this disease.’

Among its many activities, the Stiliyan Petrov Foundation organised two charity matches to raise money.

  • On May 25th, a team of former Bulgarian internationals defeated Aston Villa’s Old Stars in a friendly match in Sofia (Bulgaria). Hristo Stoichkov, Krasimir Balakov, Dimitar Berbatov, Martin Petrov and Lyuboslav Penev were among  the Bulgarian legends participating. 
  • On September 8th, a Celtic Heroes XI hosted a Stiliyan XI at Parkhead in Glasgow in front of a capacity crowd of 60,000 spectators. Former team mates and opponents such as Henrik Larsson, Paul Lambert, Gareth Barry, Gabriel Agbonlahor, Wilfred Bouma, Shay Given, Robert Pires, Berbatov, John Terry  and Piere van Hooijdonk, as well as several artists made their appearance.