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
|5||CS U Craiova||10||2||3||5||8||14||31||-6|
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:
|ACS Poli Timosoara||W5-0||L0-1|
|CS U Craiova||W2-0||L1-2||L0-1||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
|Victor Rimniceanu||G||30.11.89||Bucharest||Concordia Chiajna|
|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|
|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|
|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|