A charity match held by Stiliyan Petrov – a professional football player that was forced to retire due to his battle with leukemia – was the stage for an emotional and lively game this past Sunday in addition to quite some drama in regards to One Directon’s Louis Tomlinson. Petrov organized the match to help raise money for cancer victims, with a full stadium of 60,000 fans attending as Petrov’s XI took on Scottish club Celtic.
Aside from Petrov, the match featured football stars such as John Terry, Paul Lambert, Shay Given, Dimitar Berbatov, and Neil Lennon along with pop star Louis Tomlinson. But the 34 year-old Bulgarian ended up being the real hero, receiving an astounding ovation from the crowd in his first time back since being diagnosed with leukemia in March of 2012. Celtic manager Martin O’Neill insisted the match was the perfect tribute to Petrov, who spent a glorious seven years at the Hoops before leaving for Aston Villa.
Petrov captained his own side for just over the first 30 minutes of the match before reappearing later for Celtic in a exciting game that ended with the score of 5-3 for the Stiliyan XI. It was a very emotional moment for Petrov, who had tears in his eyes as stars from the world of entertainment and football worked together to help raise money for his charity and celebrate his career.
The game was stopped on the 19th minute as everyone stood up and clapped for Petrov, who wore the #19 shirt at both Celtic and Aston Villa before leaving and undergoing intense chemotherapy for his disease, which is thankfully now subsiding. Petrov’s XI emerged victorious with a hat-trick from Berbatov and goals from himself and Westlife’s Nicky Byrne, while actor Warren Brown and Pierre van Hooidonk scored for Celtic. He finished an emotional lap of honor with his two kids, and told the crowd:
“Thank you very much for everything. You showed the world how special this place is. Thank you for standing by me when I had the hardest time of my life.”
But it was Louis Tomlinson who ended up being the subject of much controversy, as the match got slightly ugly for him on the 53rd minute. Aston Villa striker Gabriel Agbonlahor went on to make a fairly hard tackle against the One Direction star, who fell to the ground and clutched his knee in pain. After watching the replays, it was clear Agbonlahor committed an unnecessarily harsh foul on Tomlinson, something that certainly shouldn’t be happening at a charity match.
After receiving the injury, Louis Tomlinson – who wore “1D” on his back to represent One Direction – looked a bit sick but eventually stood up and was patted on the head by Agbonlahor. The One Direction star then immediately limped to the edge of the field to be subbed out of the match, but on his way there he threw up and even got booed, still feeling the effects of the impact he received earlier. Once again, Tomlinson managed to get back on his feet and walked back to the bench to watch the remainder of the match. Martin O’Neill assessed Louis Tomlinson’s injury after the match:
“Agbonlahor smashed into him and he picked himself up and then was ill in the dressing-room area, but he’s not too bad now I think. He had to rush off, but I think he’s fine. He doesn’t know where he is, but he’s fine. He was genuinely ill, but he’s OK now.”
It’s upsetting that we had to witness such a tackle at a charity match, but Tomlinson ended up being fine and finally realized his dream of playing football for Celtic, enjoying every single moment of it. Following the game, Tomlinson and Agbonlahor exchanged a few nice words, signifying that there were no hard feelings between them and that what happened on the field was a thing of the past.
But Agbonlahor’s grief for his tackle on Louis Tomlinson had only started, as the Aston Villa player immediately became the target of multiple death threats. Many took to twitter to express their hate for Agbonlahor, and some stated that without an apology from him, they will make him pay the ultimate price for hurting Tomlinson’s knee. Agbonlahor did end up apologizing for his actions, and as such the death threats became less numerous.
But in the end, everything ended well, with Stiliyan Petrov being named a hero for winning his hard fight against leukemia and an emotional celebration of his career. Despite some drama surrounding Louis Tomlinson’s knee injury, the fans had fun watching as their stars played an exciting match of football for charity, and the purpose was fulfilled as a large sum of money from the match was donated to help people like Petrov fight cancer and help doctors find a cure to the disease in the near future.