Paul Lambert is considering giving Stilian Petrov a role among his backroom staff, after the Aston Villa midfielder confirmed that he was retiring from football 15 months after he was diagnosed with acute leukaemia. Although the Villa manager stopped short of explaining exactly what sort of position he had in mind for Petrov, he has already discussed the role with other staff at the club and said that he plans to meet with the Bulgarian to establish whether he would be interested.
Petrov, 33, is in remission and, in what promises to be an emotional moment, will lead out the Villa players and their families for the traditional lap of appreciation at the end of Saturday's home match against Chelsea, when the Midlands club hope to move a step closer to Premier League safety. The midfielder made 219 appearances for Villa after joining from Celtic in a £6.5m deal in 2006.
"He'll be missed here but the door will always be open for him," said Lambert, who spoke of his admiration for the way Villa and rival supporters have marked the 19th minute of every game with applause for Petrov. "I have some things in my head which I'm running over, not a sentimental thing at all, just some things my staff and myself have spoken about, they know what I think. But Stan will be the first to know. It's only right I speak to him first and see how he feels.
"I think he has got a lot to offer, the way he is as a guy but because of his football knowledge as well. He's been about the block, he's been an international player, he has been captain of big clubs and captain of his national team. I'm not so sure he'll be cut out to be a manager. I'm not so sure he would like that stress level. If he was a manager, he would probably age within a month. But he wouldn't suffer fools, that's for sure. It's just something in our heads we need to speak to him about."
Lambert played alongside Petrov for Celtic and laughed about some of the memories. "I remember he scored an unbelievable goal at Dundee one day – he could hit a ball with so much power. The first time I saw him in training when he was 19 he hit a shot from about 80 yards, honestly. I thought: 'What the hell have we signed here?' This plump lad who looked miles off it at the time. But he got to grips with it. He was a brilliant player and more importantly a top, top guy."
The Villa manager backed calls for Petrov to be inducted into the club hall of fame, which started in 2007 and includes Peter Withe and Paul McGrath among its 12 members. "It would be fantastic if they did that for him, every bit of praise is so deserved for what he's been through," Lambert said.
Earlier in the day Petrov had revealed that he had played his last game of football. "It is with a heavy heart that I am announcing my retirement from the game … The emotions are overwhelming really, but the continued support of family, friends and the great people I have come to know will make it easier for me to move on from the only life I've ever known.
"That I am ready to embrace new challenges will make this process much easier. Since being diagnosed with acute leukaemia in March 2012, I have come to understand and appreciate the way in which this disease impacts the lives of so many people. I can help and I want to help and, in setting up a foundation to help address the issues involved when people are diagnosed with this illness, I hope to make a difference.
"This will be my new challenge, one I will face with all the enthusiasm, energy and drive with which I have faced every single challenge."