The 20-year-old midfielder reveals the message of support he received from the ex-Villa captain as a 16-year-old.
Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish has revealed to the club's official website the message of support he received from Stiliyan Petrov after the pair first trained together for the club's first team when Grealish was 16.
Grealish joined Villa at the age of six and was first introduced into first-team action as a teenager when he was named as an unused substitute for the 4-2 defeat to Chelsea in March 2012.
Prior to that match, the winger had been training with the club's senior side for a few weeks, where he came face-to-face with club captain Petrov.
Grealish revealed that the Bulgarian gave the youngster some harsh and physical treatment on the training pitch, but explained to him after the session that he should take being fouled as a compliment to his ability and skill set.
The 20-year-old told the club's website: "I have always been good mates with Stan – well, apart from the first time I trained with him. He was kicking me all over the pitch. I didn’t like that too much. The boys were saying ‘you ain’t see nothing yet.’
"But he was only doing it to toughen me up and get me ready for what lay ahead. He said to me after the training session ‘if people kick you, you should take it as a compliment’.
"He had so much talent and was such a great leader too. He drove the team on."
Just a few short weeks after that encounter Petrov received his diagnosis of leukaemia and halted his career, but Grealish is finally training alongside his former teammate again after the 37-year-old linked up with his former side for pre-season.
Grealish revealed that Petrov is coping well with the return to action, and he finally got to realise his dream of playing alongside the former skipper when the pair turned out in midfield for one half of the 8-0 friendly win over Austrian side GAK Graz on Saturday.