Football in Romania – a national passion
There was a time when Romania was better known for its club football than its international side, with Steaua Bucharest winning European trophies and their arch-rivals Dinamo often in contention too. However, a golden generation of talent helped the national team to shine on the biggest stage of all. Despite the troubles in the domestic league in recent decades, the Tricolorii still generate huge excitement in a country where much is expected from the national game. Read on for more about Romania tickets at StubHub!
Romania's national football team
Romania’s pedigree as an international team is hard to beat: they were one of only four European teams to contest the first-ever World Cup in Uruguay in 1930, and then qualified for the next two. The history of post-war football in Eastern Europe is rightly centred around the 1950s Hungarian teams inspired by Puskas, but Romania re-emerged to play a crucial role in the 1970 World Cup. They sealed an unlikely 2-1 win against the much-fancied Czechs and came close to an upset against the Brazil of Pele and Jairzinho, with Dumitrache and Dembrowski scoring in a 3-2 defeat.
In the 1980s and 1990s, Gheorghe Hagi was the animating force behind many of the team’s best performances. Frequently compared to Maradona for his prodigious goal-scoring, his vision and bursts of speed with the ball at his feet, Hagi was one of the great midfielders of his era and is still idolised by fans of Real Madrid, Galatasaray and Steaua. He brought a much-needed confidence to the Tricolorii – with Hagi as a creative playmaker, Romania began to believe they could compete against the best. However, the side was never a one-man team, and the hero-worship of Hagi sometimes overshadowed the credit due to players like Florin Răducioiu or Ilie Dumitrescu in attack or long-serving defender Dan Petrescu.
Some of Romanian football’s greatest memories are forever bathed in American sunshine. Drawn against the mighty Argentina in 1994, few gave Romania a chance until two goals by Dumitrescu – one a superbly curled free kick from out on the left wing – put them into a surprise 2-1 lead early in the first half. With Argentina chasing the game, the Tricolorii broke from a corner. A composed run took Dumitrescu to the edge of the box. On a hat-trick, he unselfishly played in Hagi - who else? – to fire past the helpless Luis Islas.
No less memorable was Romania’s group match against England four years later, as two Premier League players ended English hopes. Viorel Moldovan chested down a cross and volleyed past David Seaman before Petrescu embarrassed club-mate Le Saux for Romania’s second.