There isn’t to be a fairytale ending for Stilyan Petrov.
Stan, at 37 has successfully overcome leukemia but won’t be offered a playing contract by the club.
It’s a decision most of us won’t be surprised by and if we’re honest, probably agree with. The reports of his progress this summer in training and in friendlies have been encouraging. Our hearts have been left to rule our heads. We remember Stan strolling and patrolling the midfield before illness struck. We want the new Stan to be the same as the old Stan, even if we know that probably isn’t going to happen.
Age is a battle none of us win.
But most importantly, we want a Stan we can be proud of remembering. Not one we look on condescendingly when the effort is there but the performances aren’t of the standard we need.
For Roberto Di Matteo, it must have been one of those heart-wrenching decisions a football manager doesn’t want to make:
Stiliyan is an inspiration to all of us.
I have spoken to him and explained my thoughts and offered him the chance to remain at the Club. Stiliyan is going to discuss this with his family before coming back to us.
No decision, it seems, has yet been taken but I hope he remains at the club.
His is a story from which other players can draw strength. With young players needing a role model, his professionalism is exemplary. For the injured, knowing that he fought and beat cancer, and was able to return to training at 37, is inspiring and offers a perspective on their own injuries, no matter how serious.
Stan also has a wealth of experience to pass on, as well as making his own mark in coaching or management.
In an understanding environment, where he is highly thought of, is there a better place to start?