Gabriel Agbonlahor says he will never forgive former Aston Villa boss Roberto Di Matteo’s for his treatment of Stiliyan Petrov.
The Italian coach was only at the helm for four months at Villa Park and only won one game, but it was Di Matteo’s treatment of Bulgaria star Petrov which still annoys Agbonlahor.
Petrov had won his three-year battle against leukaemia and was hoping for a place in the Villa squad for 2016/17 after returning to the fold, but Di Matteo was having none of it, despite Petrov’s hard work during pre-season that year.
“I’ll hate him for the rest of my life for that,” Agbonlahor told threesixtytv. “Any other manager with a single bit of heart would have given him a pay-as-you-play.
“There’s a month, or there’s six months, let’s see how you are. To be so ruthless and heartless to not even give him a chance, you know what I mean?
“Imagine you come back from that horrific disease, you’ve got yourself fit, you’ve lost all this weight that you’ve put on through your treatment.
“You’ve come back, you’ve done every run that the 19-year-olds have done in pre-season and you can’t give me anything? Do you know what I mean?”
Petrov, then 37, retired that summer and confirmed he would hang up his boots.
“There will be no comebacks,” he told the Daily Mirror at the time. “My return to professional football has failed but I will explain the reasons at a later stage.
“I am glad I was able to come back and do a pre-season but sometimes things do not work out the way we want.”