In the aftermath of Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement and David Moyes’ appointment, you would think there were no other stories worth telling.
That something huge was happening in the world of football was not in question.
But when arguably the greatest British manager of all time leaves the club at which he is an institution, any other news released at that time will quickly be swallowed in the clamour to tell one story a hundred different ways.
And yet there is one piece of news that shouldn’t be lost. In many ways it should be as much a part of every football fan’s consciousness as the events at Old Trafford.
Another man has retired from football this week – Aston Villa’s Stiliyan Petrov.
But while Ferguson has retired to spend more time with the grandchildren, to drink fine wine, enjoy the races and continue his work behind the scenes, Petrov’s choice was made for him.
After over a year battling acute leukaemia, the 33-year-old midfielder has called an end to his career.
Now in remission, Petrov has made the decision to leave the game that he has served so well, and one that has supported him so spectacularly in his time of need.
In the wake of his announcement, FA chairman David Bernstein said, “As a player for club and country, he was a tremendous ambassador for the game and I am sure the football family will continue to show their friendship and backing for Stiliyan.”
Villa’s last home game of the campaign this weekend will see Petrov lead the side out for the end-of-season lap of honour.
And as with every match since his diagnosis, the fans will applaud throughout the 19th minute of that game and the final one against Wigan, a match fans are now calling “Stiliyan Petrov day”.
It is the latest show of support for a player who deserves every second of it.
Following his retirement, he has announced that he will be setting up a foundation to help support other sufferers of acute leukaemia.
“This will be my new challenge,” he said, “one I will face with all the enthusiasm, energy and drive with which I have faced every single challenge.”
So despite statements from Ferguson and Moyes taking most of the column inches, despite countless professionals and pundits having their say on United managers past and future, I want this moment to be about another story; one that we should never forget.
And because it is only right, I will leave the last word to Petrov.
“There is a deep joy in my heart because of what you have shared with me, not only in this past year but over the years I have been in football. I felt privileged. I still do. I always will.”
What are your memories of Petrov as a player?
image: © Ben Sutherland