From boo-boy to Player of the Season: One Bulgarian's journey

I know Damian's lost his content to the idiots over at Oil of Ulay (or whatever it's called). But regular readers of the "old" blog will recall my disgust when Stiliyan Petrov was boo-ed onto the field by certain "fans" early last season.

Stan didn't play well for his first season-and-a-half at Villa. Clearly out of position at the time, Petrov had often looked sluggish and clumsy. He'd been used to working as a play maker in the less demanding SPL (cue all the comments from Glasgow), but O'Neill deployed him deeper and asked Stan to run, cover and tackle.

Now, I will challenge any Villa fan to tell me that Stiliyan Petrov hasn't run, covered and tackled more effectively than any other player during the second half of last season and the whole of this one.

Petrov has been nothing short of a revelation. His hard work and modesty, never once grumbling when left off the bench but just working hard to get back, is totally admirable. And it kind of conflicts with the 'Gabby thing' - "I'll get picked whatever so who gives a toss?!"

My Sunday breakfast was cheered by reading the papers' review of the Ireland-Bulgaria game. Man-of-the-Match; Stiliyan Petrov..."the Aston Villa midfielder looked every inch a class player"..."Petrov showed a touch of class"..."Petrov was clearly in a different league".

Every time I watch Stan, he seems to get better. The fact that every time I watch Gabby, he seems to get worse is irrelevant - or so I'm told.

Maybe Damian should run a poll on which player is more important to Aston Villa - Gabby Agbonlahor or Stiliyan Petrov.

I know where my vote's going, and I have nothing but praise and admiration for the way Stan has made the anchor position his own. Most players who come south from the SPL don't make it and go "home" pretty quickly (Shaun Maloney?) - one or two stick it out and show just how good they really, really are.

It's easy, isn't it?

Stan is pure class. Pure class.