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27th Nov 2016

Stiliyan Petrov played for Aston Villa v Virgin Trains because this year is weird

A 'social media grudge match'. No, really.

Tom Victor

Trust 2016 to draw to a close with a match between a Championship football team and a train franchise which was organised in response to a Twitter argument.

Most of the time, such an idea would sound preposterous. But this is the year of a reality show host winning the US Presidential election and Danny Dyer finding out that he’s descended from royalty, so anything is possible.

So when we learned that Aston Villa had beaten Virgin Trains 6-2, our only reaction was to wonder who got the goals.

For those of you unfamiliar with the aforementioned Twitter spat, it began with some corporate banter between Virgin Trains and the Villans after Roberto di Matteo was relieved of his managerial duties, and it ended like this.

Now, you might have expected Villa to shirk at the challenge, but instead they took it very seriously, even naming former club captain Stilyan Petrov in their team to take on the Railwaymen (we assume that’s the nickname they’d prefer, as opposed to another of the options).

Aston Villa v Chelsea - Premier LeagueChris Brunskill/Getty Images

Petrov, who was given an all-clear in his recovery from leukaemia last year, had been training with the first team.

And while he ultimately wasn’t handed a contract, he has kept in playing shape and took to the field for the strangest of grudge matches.

We’re still none the wiser as to whether the Bulgarian was able to get his name on the scoresheet, but at least we know he was on the winning team.