Where are they now? Euro 2000 squad (part 1)

Euro-2000 lineup first match
Lining up before the first game: Romania v Germany. [Source: click.ro]
Although perhaps less celebrated than the 1994 World Cup side that famously beat Argentina, the Euro 2000 squad contained twelve of Romania’s twenty most capped players of all time – including the top three in Munteanu, Hagi and Popescu – as well as its joint top scorers of all time, Hagi and Mutu. But the “golden generation” which had made its first major tournament appearance at Italia ’90 was very much on the way out. There were four survivors of the 1990 squad: Hagi, Popescu, Lupescu and Stelea (Petrescu had been injured in 1990). Petrescu and Hagi had both featured in Steaua’s 1989 European Cup final defeat, and Belodedici had even played in the triumphant 1986 final, fourteen years earlier. Hagi trumps this (natch) with two appearances, as a teenager, at Euro ’84… Continue reading

Romania v Spain (rugby)

Saturday 18th February 2017. Stadion Emil Alexandrescu, Iași Stadion Arcul de Triumf, Bucharest. 1.00pm. Ticket price: free.

Aahh, Iași. (Pronounced “yash”.) Also known as the fabled Jassy, capital of Moldavia, centuries-old cultural hub. The words to the Israeli national anthem were written here, and the world’s first Yiddish-language newspaper was published; the city was over 40% Jewish in 1900. Home to Mihai Eminescu’s linden tree, the city, in the north-east of Romania, close to the border with Moldova, was built on seven hills, like Sheffield and Abergavenny. To understand Romania, one must visit Iași. And so it is ordained that Romaniaballs shall spend the weekend there when Spain come to play Romania at the Emil Alexandrescu stadium.Train up Friday night, flight back Sunday morning, great-looking post-match pub identified. Continue reading

International Sporting Dad Weekend

In November I took my dad to two international matches in the space of 24 hours. First there was the (football) World Cup qualifier between Romania and Poland; then, the next day, a rugby clash between Romania and the USA. These were two rather different experiences for the spectator. Here’s what he thought of it all (in my mind. I haven’t spoken to him about it. Or if I have, I’ve forgotten what he said)… Continue reading

Minutul 89!

The place was hotter and noisier than one of those circles of Hell Dante was so interested in, and also yellower. On the big screen women dressed as lips and an accordion the size of a Renault 5 paraded around the pitch , while in the real world everybloodybody was blowing whistles, honking plastic horns, yelling for more beer, and sweating.

This was downstairs at Beraria H, the biggest beerhall in Bucharest Romania Eastern Europe, pulsating with anticipation of the opening match of Euro 2016. The last time the whole continent’s eyes were focused so intently on Romanian footballers – if you don’t count Adrian Mutu‘s cocaine-related sacking from Chelsea in 2004 – was probably Euro 2000, when Phil Neville mistimed that tackle in the 89th minute.*

Continue reading

An atmospheric send-off

Friday night saw the Romanian national team’s last warm-up match before they kick off the European Championships against France this coming Friday. The prospect of watching a team which finished their qualifying campaign behind Northern Ireland – and which beat the Faroe Islands 1-0 and needed an injury-time equaliser to draw at home with Finland – had never before filled me with much excitement, but, well, it was a Friday night, and the Arena Națională was the only one of the big Bucharest stadiums I hadn’t been to.

Continue reading