BIRMINGHAM, England (AP) — Aston Villa captain Stiliyan Petrov has retired from football following a battle against acute leukemia.

The Bulgarian midfielder was diagnosed with the condition in March last year and is now in remission.

On Villa's website, Petrov says he has finished his high intensity treatment and will now undergo softer treatment with a two-year course of tablets.

Petrov says football has been a "great love of my life, so it is with a heavy heart that I am announcing my retirement from the game."

Villa fans have applauded Petrov in the 19th minute of every game this season, marking the number on his jersey.