Aston Villa captain Stiliyan Petrov told his team-mates he will win his battle against acute leukaemia in an emotional address before Saturday's Barclays Premier League clash at home to Chelsea.
Petrov will begin undergoing treatment in a London hospital on Monday after being diagnosed with the illness on Friday. But that did not stop the Bulgaria international, nicknamed Stan, from attending the encounter with the Blues where he received a standing ovation from both sets of fans during the 19th minute to mark his number 19 shirt.
Villa boss Alex McLeish said: "The support Stan has had is a measure of how popular the guy is, not only here but at Celtic and the Bulgarian nation will be rooting for him. Stan is a determined guy and has said he will fight it and beat it. He told the lads that before the game in the dressing room."
He added: "It was typical of him. He is a leader, and he says he will battle through it, and those are the kind of words we would expect to hear from Stiliyan.
"The whole of football has got respect for Stan and we are right behind him in his recovery.
"He has taken his first couple of steps in the past couple of days and we hope to see him popping in the training ground in between his spells of treatment."
Villa defender Eric Lichaj said: "Stan came into the dressing room beforehand. It is never easy when you hear news like that about someone you play with all the time.
"It can happen to anyone, just like with Fabrice Muamba the other week. You don't really know what to say or to do and just hope he makes a full recovery.
"Stan was in a good mood before the game, just trying to motivate us, being his normal self.
"That's how he is, an uplifting guy, a great captain, and it's sad what has happened."