Stiliyan Petrov is a dab hand at self-isolation. When he was diagnosed with leukaemia back in 2012, the Bulgarian, then Aston Villa captain, was forced into lockdown for more than a year outwith the odd trip to hospital.

Much as the rest of us are discovering, he learned valuable lessons about resourcefulness; ideas that he is putting to good use all over again such as keeping fit, ensuring children are entertained and playing games. Households, too, are learning to spend more time together. It has always been that way for Petrov.

“We always do a lot of things as a family, it was not just because of that [his leukaemia],” he says. “In our own experience, with my illness, we understood the value of family and the value of family time, it is not something new. We had been doing it for quite a while, now it’s a normal thing.

“We were in isolation for more than a year. We’re used to it. For one year and two months I wasn’t allowed to see anyone, we weren’t allowed to get close to anyone. We had to be at home or in the car or at the hospital and then back home, so we are used to it.”

There is an obvious exception during this crisis: Petrov is allowed to leave his house more frequently while evenings are filled with popcorn and movies as he, his wife Paulina and boys Stiliyan Jr and Kristiyan take it in turns to choose that night’s entertainment.

“We’ve been lucky that we have a garden so, as much as we are in lockdown, we can do exercises with the kids, we can play outside, the weather has been great. In the house, we play games, we watch movies, we make everyone pick a movie every single night and we watch it together and just try to entertain the kids, mostly more than us. We can just be on the phone or the computer to do a bit of work but with the kids, it is more important to pay attention to them and show that you can still do tons and you can still appreciate little things.”

Check Petrov’s Twitter feed and you will see he has perhaps been “on the phone” a little more often than usual. He hasn’t escaped the ubiquitous bar-style debates that have sprung up on social media compelling mates and acquaintances to compile any number of all-time greatest football teams; he has even retweeted one posed by Soccer AM to name the best five-a-side team that shares the same birthday as the would-be fantasy manager, prompting one Celtic fan to tweet “Me. Lovren. Stan Petrov. Zola. Crespo. What a side.”

As someone who has recently graduated with a Masters in football administration with a view to becoming a manager, it seems an opportune time to ask Petrov to put his selection skills to the test with a team of his own. The rules are simple: Petrov must have played in the same team as his picks and they must have the kind of character to survive in a lockdown, the kind of person who will thrive in adversity. Petrov opts for 1-1-3 which is set to cause him problems, a selection headache if you like, but more of that later.

First there are more prosaic matters to deal with. His selection at goalkeeper does not come as much of a surprise. It’s a former Aston Villa team-mate – also once of Celtic – whose smaller frame Petrov argues will be a benefit rather than a negative.

“I’ll go Shay Given for No.1. He would be just great to be locked in with. He’s great fun, has a great sense of humour, takes a lot of banter. Good goalkeeper. He’s small but the bigger goalkeeper is not always the best and the smaller goalie would be the best fit [for fives]. So that’s who I will take.”

There’s an anticipation that Johan Mjallby will be next, the Swede who played behind Petrov at Celtic and won three league titles with him or even Mjallby’s international colleague Olof Mellberg who spent a couple of seasons alongside Petrov at Villa. There is however a claret-and-blue hand grenade about to be hurled into the conversation.

“In defence, I would take James Collins, my ex-team-mate at Aston Villa. Again a great man, great defender and if we need to go in a five he can always challenge. I’m only going to go with one at the back because James will look after it along with three midfielders.”

If that selection comes as something of a surprise, the next three are more predictable and invoke plenty of laughter from Petrov.

“In midfield, that would be Shunsuke Nakamura because of his great awareness, his great left foot, great personality and also because he doesn’t have very good English so he would be the one who we could just laugh at because he wouldn’t understand what we’re saying.”

“I would take Roy Keane. I tell you what, he’s tough, he’s hard and he’s going to push us through these tough times. He’s always positive; he’s going to be training every day and he’s going to make sure we do the right things every day. You know, if we are going to embedded together we are going to have to make sure someone is going to cook, so he’ll set the tone for who is going to do what, and nobody will say ‘no’ to him.”

The chuckles are increasing and Petrov is getting more animated as he throws himself into the task in the manner Keane chucked himself into tackles.

“Another midfielder? Well it has to be me because I am going to be on lockdown with them, yeah? I’ll put myself there, I’ll do whatever they tell me to do and I’m just going to be the one that is going to bring them altogether.”

The most predictable of picks is left to last. He’s reached his five-man limit and he can’t fit in a striker. Nakamura is on the verge of being sacrificed when an arbitrary, SPFL-style rule change, allows Petrov an extra jersey. He’s really laughing now because we both know it’s Henrik Larsson (below).

“You know why, you know why,” he says almost shouting. “He just scores and he’s just going to win us games and he’s just great, great fun as well. I know we talk about him and how good he was at Barcelona and Manchester United, what a professional he was. It’s not just because of the way he played in the games but the way he practised. He practised for what he had done as a kid, scoring goals from different angles. We would say ‘how did he score that goal?’ He was very fit.

“Not many people ask that question but if you look at it, he was the only person at Celtic who only played

one position. Well, the other one is big John [Hartson] but he couldn’t run so that’s why he only played one position. But Henrik was the only one who never changed his position. If you go through the Celtic players, everybody played in two or three positions, except Henrik. It’s interesting that.”

Petrov’s all-time hero is Barcelona legend Hristo Stoichkov and the pair played together for the Bulgarian national team. It says everything you need to know about the regard in which he holds Larsson.

“He was a different level to anybody I ever played with.”