VIDEO: Cure Leukaemia 'Support Stan' campaign
A very special football collectible could be yours at the end of this season - every Premier League team, every player`s signature.
Aston Villa and Cure Leukaemia are offering one lucky football fan a fantastic end-of-season prize after getting together with every club in the Barclays Premier League for a campaign in support of Villa captain Stiliyan Petrov.
Villa`s popular skipper was diagnosed with acute leukaemia in March 2012 and the courage with which he has faced his battle against the illness has touched many people in the game.
The players of all the visiting teams to Villa Park this season have been signing boards specially commissioned by the Club and Cure Leukaemia for a fabulous prize to be won by one lucky supporter at the end of the season.
To enter the competition and to donate £5 to fund Cure Leukaemia`s excellent, life-saving work, fans can text STAN 19 £5 to 70070.
'The support of Villa fans and the support of football fans all over the country and around the world has helped me a lot during my illness and this is another great initiative which can hopefully raise awareness for a very worthy cause,' said the player known affectionately as 'Stan`.
'I have learnt a lot about this illness over the past nine months or so and I`ve learnt about the people it affects and the impact it has on their families and the people they love.
'What we`re trying to do is draw people`s awareness to this illness and do something practical by raising funds and helping to combat the disease.
'I`m delighted that the cause has been supported by my team-mates and my colleagues throughout the Premier League. It`s very touching and the amount of money we raise can make a real difference.'
Cure Leukaemia is a Birmingham-based charity funding specialist nurses to treat leukaemia patients with drugs that are not available on the NHS.
Villa CEO Paul Faulkner, who is also a Cure Leukaemia Trustee, said: 'Cure Leukaemia`s dedication and pioneering work in this field is inspiring and we`re delighted to work with them on this campaign.
'The support from all of the clubs in the Premier League has been tremendous and we appreciate this coming together very much.
'Stan is a very powerful symbol of the way in which leukaemia can strike anybody and he also embodies very powerfully the strength and courage that is needed in the battle to overcome this disease.
'We`re very dedicated to supporting the hard work of many people in the fight against leukaemia and we hope to achieve a lot through this campaign.'
Cure Leukaemia CEO James McLaughlin (pictured) said: 'The idea for this campaign came about in the summer and now here we are with it as a reality.
'It`s a great achievement for everybody who`s been involved so far. You look at the names and the value of the squads who`ve been involved so far and it`s amazing. There`s going to be some lucky winner out there who gets a phenomenal amount of signatures.
'The purpose of Cure Leukaemia is very simple: the more nurses we can fund, the more lives we can hopefully save. I think the other important thing is remembering that the more nurses we have, the quicker we can get the drugs to the patients.
'An average drug can cost £250,000 just to get put through. That`s a heck of a lot of money and that`s just for one patient. These are big sums and that`s why we need people to really get behind the campaign.'
After donating via text, fans should also register their details in order for their donation to be eligible for Gift Aid and also to ensure that they can be notified after the draw, which will take place following the last day of the Premier League season 2012/13.
Fans can also enter online at www.justgiving.com/supportstan .
Villa manager Paul Lambert said: 'As a mate and a footballer, Stan Petrov was one of the best lads I ever played alongside.
'He came of age as a footballer while we were team-mates at Celtic and he matured into a dressing room leader.
'Those leadership qualities evolved into his captaincy of the team here at Villa and he remains our club captain, still very much involved and still a very real part of our identity as a team and as a club.
'We miss him at the club on the days he`s not around but the support from fans and people who follow football is something that`s really special, it means a lot to Stan and his family and this campaign can be a real force for good.'
Cure Leukaemia funds research nurses to enable patients in the West Midlands region to access potentially life-saving and ground-breaking drugs and treatments.
To date, Cure Leukaemia has helped to treat more than 400 patients in the region through securing £17m worth of revolutionary drugs, as well as funding research nurses to administer these trials.
Without expert research nurses to ensure patients are constantly monitored and cared for, these trials could not happen.
Birmingham-based charity, Cure Leukaemia, funds research nurses to enable blood cancer patients to access potentially lifesaving, ground breaking drugs and treatments.