European Football

Europe’s unknown champions: Viitorul Constanța of Romania

ROMANIA has new league champions in Viitorul Constanta, a club formed just eight years ago by one of the nation’s sporting heroes, Gheorghe Hagi.

The club is based in Ovidiu, a small town in the south-east of Romania with a population of just 12,000. It forms part of Hagi’s mission to improve Romanian football. He invested EUR 10m of his own cash into building a training facility in his home town. The state-of-the-art facilities allow young players to develop faster than any other in Romania. Almost 300 youngsters take part in the Gheorghe Hagi Football Academy, which is now regarded as the best youth development programme in the country.

Romanian Liga 1 – Championship round final table

P W D L F A Pts g.d.
1 Viitorul Constanța 10 5 3 2 12 8 44 +4
2 FCSB 10 6 2 2 15 7 44 +8
3 Dinamo Bucharest 10 5 4 1 15 8 40 +7
4 CFR Cluj 10 3 2 5 8 14 33 -6
5 CS U Craiova 10 2 3 5 8 14 31 -6
6 Astra Giurgiu 10 1 2 7 10 17 27 -7

 

The second element to Hagi’s commitment is the football club. Romanian journalist Catalin Andrei, explained the rationale for this ambitious project: “Gheorghe’s wanted to show other club owners the right way to do things in football. He aimed to build an academy similar to those he witnessed at Real Madrid and Barcelona, while also gathering information from Ajax and AC Milan.”

Viitorul Constanta (Viitorul means future in Romanian), took over the place of CS Ovidiu in the third tier of Romanian football in 2009-10 which they won at the first attempt. Two years later, they were promoted from Liga II.

In 2016-17, a 1-0 win over FC Cluj, thanks to a penalty from substitute Gabriel Iancu, gave Hagi’s side the title. It’s a young team, hence they are known as Puștii lui Hagi (Hagi’s kids). There’s only one non-Romanian player in their squad and a number of them have graduated through Hagi’s academy. “I’m proud, happy, because these children have fought their last ounce of energy and achieved the impossible. We’re the youngest champions in Europe.”

How they won the League:

  Home Away Home Away
ACS Poli Timosoara W5-0 L0-1
Astra Giurgiu W1-0 L0-1 W3-2 W2-1
Botosani W3-1 W2-1
CFR Cluj W2-1 L0-1 W1-0 D0-0
Concordia Chiajna W2-1 W2-1
CSM Politehnica W1-0 D0-0
CS U Craiova W2-0 L1-2 L0-1 W1-0
Dinamo Bucharest D1-1 W2-1 D0-0 L1-2
FCSB L1-3 L0-2 W3-1 D1-1
Gaz Metan D1-1 L1-2
Pandurii Targu W3-0 W1-0
Targu Mures D1-1 W2-0
Voluntari W2-1 W1-0

 

Their victory is not without controversy, however. FCSB (Steaua Bucharest with a new label on the bottle) have confirmed they will protest as they finished level on points and they had won the initial phase of the season. Hagi commented: “The big must behave like big men, they must know how to lose.”

Viitorul Constanta squad 2016-17

Player Pos D-O-B Birthplace Previous club
Victor Rimniceanu G 30.11.89 Bucharest Concordia Chiajna
Sebastian Mladen FB 11.12.91 Calafat Sudtirol
Kevin Boli CB 21.6.91 Lens, France Mouscron-Peruwelz
Romario Benzar FB 26.3.92 Timisoara Hagi Academy
Bogdan Tiru CB 15.3.94 Romania Hagi Academy
Sorin Radoi CB 30.6.85 Craiova Voluntari
Nelut Rosu M 5.7.93 Cluj-Napoca Concordia Chiajna
Carlo Casap M 29.12.98 Timisoara Hagi Academy
Aurelian Chițu M 25.3.91 Tandarei Astra Giurgui
Cristian Ganea M 24.5.92 Bistrita Brasov
Dora Dumitrescu M 25.5.98 Draganesti Hagi Academy
George Tucudean A 30.4.91 Arad Pandurii Targu
Vlad Morar A 1.8.93 Zalau Targu Mures
Gabriel Iancu A 15.4.94 Bucharest Steaua (originally Hagi Academy)
Florinel Coman A 10.4.98 Braila Hagi Academy

 

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