Villa boosted by Benteke - Petrov

Stiliyan Petrov has backed Aston Villa to enjoy a successful season now that Christian Benteke has pledged to stay at Villa Park.

Last Updated: 24/07/13 at 18:33 Post Comment

Christian Benteke: Withdrew transfer request and instead signed a new deal with

Christian Benteke: Withdrew transfer request and instead signed a new deal with

Former captain Stiliyan Petrov has backed Aston Villa to enjoy a successful season in the Barclays Premier League now that Christian Benteke has pledged to stay at Villa Park.

The 22-year-old handed the Midlands club a major boost when he withdrew a transfer request and agreed a new deal until 2017.

The striker netted 19 goals as Villa escaped the drop last term and Petrov believes Benteke could make all the difference in the coming campaign.

He said: "It's a big boost. The way he performed last season, the way he played, if Villa had lost him, they would probably be in bigger trouble.

"Keeping him is just great. All the fans, the players, the manager, everybody is happy that Christian is staying at the club.

"He has shown unbelievable potential. He is still a young boy and he still has a lot to learn.

"But, if he plays the way he played last season, Villa will finish very, very high this season."

Petrov sees no reason why the Belgian should receive stick from Villa fans as a result of his initial plans to quit the club.

He said: "I don't think so, I don't think they should give him stick.

"They should actually be pleased that they have a player like that in their team.

"In the last couple of years, Aston Villa sold a lot of players.

"A lot of players went to Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City.

"When you have a season like Christian had, of course you have ambitions, of course you are going to have clubs with ambitions who are after you.

"I think the fans will be even happier now that Christian has decided to stay with the club."

On Villa's prospects for the campaign ahead, Petrov said: "I think they'll have a very good season.

"The manager has a very exciting young squad.

"They have got a long way to improve still but they are hungry, they want to achieve, they want to be counted and I think they will do well."

Petrov announced his retirement from football in May following his battle against acute leukaemia.

Today, back at Celtic Park where a legends charity match will take place in September to celebrate his career, he spoke of his heartbreak at being forced to hang up his boots at the age of 33.

He said: "It was very hard. It's what I wanted to do all my life. I wanted to become a professional footballer - play football, enjoy football.

"It was really difficult when I got the news, it was heart-breaking. I burst into tears, I couldn't believe it.

"Obviously I knew a lot about my disease, I knew the treatment and everything, but I didn't know it was going to be that hard and that long.

"The advice from my professor and the doctors was that I couldn't continue to play football because of a lot of reasons - the steroids, the tablets, the bones getting weaker.

"It's a thing that you can't risk and, at the moment, the most important thing is my health."

He added: "I've been offered a job to work with the reserve team at Villa.

"I've been doing it for two weeks and I've been in the dug-out for a couple of games and I really enjoy it.

"It's something new for me, something exciting and I'm really happy to work with these young boys.

"The next step is setting up my foundation, which is a big thing.

"I went through a lot last year and I will try to help and make a difference."


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