Râducanu, the mystery entertainer in black

IN the days when any team from behind Communist Europe was treated with a great sense of curiosity, any player resembling a larger-than-life figure contradicted all preconceived ideas about football in countries such as Bulgaria, Czechoslavakia and Romania.  Eastern European Communists were meant to be dour and mechanical and prioritised function over artistry. That was […]

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 […]

Toothless in Transylvania: Romania’s sad decline

IN JANUARY 1969, England centre-half Jackie Charlton handled the ball in the penalty area at Wembley and a 20 year-old forward named Florea Dumitrache stepped-up to score past Gordon Banks with 16 minutes to go. England, the World Champions, were held by what the TV commentators called “a minor nation”. Dumitrache looked useful and in […]