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Watch: Leukaemia survivor Stiliyan Petrov offers his advice to cancer sufferers

By Gareth Hanna

'Belief and patience' are the two keys Stiliyan Petrov used to unlock his life after leukaemia.

The former Celtic and Aston Villa midfielder was diagnosed with the cancer in March 2012 and by August, it was announced that the condition had gone into remission.

Petrov went on to retire from professional football in 2013, although he did try to earn another contract at Villa last summer only to be told by manager Roberto Di Matteo that a deal would not be offered.

Also now heading up the Stiliyan Petrov Foundation to support those suffering from acute leukaemia, the Bulgarian is in Belfast as he completes his training to earn a UEFA B License with one eye on a career as a manager.

As he looks to move ahead into that new chapter, Petrov gave his experienced advice to anyone currently battling cancer.

"The two things that I have realised are important are belief and patience," he said, with a caring, understanding tone.

"The belief is because you need to believe you can go through it, no matter how hard it is and you need to be patient because it's not one day. You can't just get cured in one day. It's a long process. You go through ups and downs but as long as you're prepared to be patient, you have more chance to succeed."

Now that he is out the other side of his own battle, Petrov's outlook on life has been altered. His calm, considered demeanour in response to every question evidence of his admission that he is now 'more relaxed.'

"I take news and life more easily," he said. "I know that, going through the illness, I know what I could have lost. Our lives, everybody's lives in today's world go at 100 miles an hour. We don't stop, we worry so I take my time, I consider things, I appreciate, I value little things in life.

"You know, all these five years that I went through a difficult battle with myself and the family and the support of millions, showed me that you need to be patient and you need to appreciate things in life."

And that attitude certainly extends beyond his personal life into his professional ambition to become a manager.

"I will take my time, assess it, do my coaching hours and then one day if the right opportunity comes, I may jump in," he said.

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