24 years old from Romania

Article by Adrian Florea, Liviu Manolache – published on Thursday, June 30, 2022, 09:30 / updated on Thursday, June 30, 2022 09:58

On 30 June 1998, Romania lost to Croatia, 0-1, in the eighth finals of the World Cup in France in what would remain the final match for the tricolor in the World Championship final. A competition that started exceptionally, 1-0 with Colombia and 2-1 with England, but continued poorly, 1-1 with Tunisia, and ended in an ocean of questions raised by the strange performance of Puiu Iordănescu students in front of Boban and his companions. .

24 years later, Gabe Popescu has everything fresh in his memory, although he says he never saw the confrontation or personal duel with Asanovic that was then dictated the crucial punishment that Coker turned around.

24 years from Romania – Croatia, the last match in the World Cup

Hi Gabe Popescu! how are you?
– Welcome! Well, thanks for the question. But what occasion are you looking for me?

June 30 is the twenty-fourth anniversary of the national team’s last match in the World Cup and …
– Croatia episode, right?

– exactly. What memories do you have about that?
Latifa, it was a final tournament. And unpleasantly lost.

“I played, let others watch the replay!”

– After 11 meters easy …
“Yes, Asanovic fell next to me, and the referee immediately whistled.”

– Was it a mistake?
“I say no, as I said then.” If you remember, Asanovic tried to get a similar penalty in the group match with Argentina. Then the referee let the match continue.

“Have you seen that match before?” Or the great victories with Colombia and England, in which you were the initiator?
– no never!

– How is that?
– I don’t usually do. I don’t have a single record for any of my matches! I played, I was on the grass, watching others watch them replay.

‘They were very strong’

– Do you have any explanation for the fact that after two great successes followed by a tortured draw with Tunisia and failed without appeal with Croatia?
With Tunisia we used more players who developed less, and Croatia was actually very strong for us. it is easy.

– To have a bad effect and dye the hair yellow for all players after obtaining qualification in the eighth place?
“Yeah, he might have taken us out of our focus by then.”

“I never felt against the Croats that we could fight them.”
Did you forget who he was playing with? Did you forget about Boban? de ukr? De Vlaowicz? De Asanovic? De Bilic? de garni? Did you forget that Prosinečki did not enter at all? Did you forget the final tournament they ran? France just beat them in the semi-finals!

“I haven’t forgotten.” However, we were not fit either.
– That’s right, I had Hagee, and Gica Popescu, and Dan Petrescu, and I had a lot of very good and very good things. But at the time of that match they were simply better. Stronger and more determined.

Did you think then that a quarter of a century would pass without Romania qualifying for the World Cup?
– Who would have imagined?! But I’m not surprised that I got where I got.

24 years since Romania's last World Cup match »

Gabi Popescu

‘The collapse will continue’

– Can you elaborate?
– Well, without being a great specialist, I think the collapse of Romanian football is not over yet. It’s a process that started about 20 years ago, and it’s a process that will last a long time or more, if we don’t do something sooner!

– you mean? What should be done?
– Well, do you think we will solve something if we change Edi Iordănescu? Do you think we can solve anything with this current genetics?

“We don’t know, but we can’t wait to see how they beat us all.” What solution do you see?
– Without the very serious and strong participation of politicians, from those who decide in this country, nothing will be done!

“Well, aren’t we tired of getting involved in politics?” It was said that Burleanu was appointed politically at the head of the FRF, and that Iorgulescu …
“I don’t mean that kind of getting involved, in case there’s any speculation.” I say that only decision makers can save Romanian football and sport in general.

Whoever expects overnight miracles is either naive or does not know the meaning of sport!

“Hungary defeats England twice, and Montenegro gives us five!”

– How do I do it?
If we do not know how, let us follow the example of others. From the Hungarians, for example, there is no shame! What have our neighbors been doing for years?! I invest in sports. I invest in playgrounds, swimming pools and ice rinks. I invest in children. The results are clear. I refuse to believe that the Hungarians’ victory with England was accidental, in just 10 days. Exactly at the time when Montenegro was giving us five in a double round… did you see the hall where the Women’s Handball Champions League final was held? Can you believe there is such a thing in Budapest? Well, yes, there is. Have you seen something like this in Romania?! Aren’t you embarrassed that there is no decent multi-purpose hall in Bucharest in 2022?!

The government has other priorities.
– Then…Farewell, football! Farewell, Romanian sport! I tell you, without a well-developed plan, without involving everyone who knows what football and what sport it is eaten in, we will achieve nothing. Of course, a miracle appears out of nowhere, like David Popovici. Or Simona Halep. He still works in individual sports, but in team sports this is impossible. However, even for singles, if you don’t have a family with money to support you, and spend huge sums when you’re young, you don’t stand a chance.

– we will …
– Don’t you see that our children have nowhere to run to?! As Ceausescu was, but in every neighborhood he built a school. And every school had at least one field, where I could fly, jump and run behind the ball. Now that almost no one wants to leave their smartphone in their hands, they have nowhere to exercise. At least for fun, not necessarily professionalism.

– Returning to football, unfortunately not only the first national team is in a good mood. Did you see an under-19 actor in the last European finals?
– Yes, what I saw there is unbelievable, especially in the last match with Slovakia. Although our opponent was clearly inferior to us, they beat us with enthusiasm and ambition. And because we lack a few basic things.

“How do you play offensively without haggi and without moto?!”

– What you mean?
Well, let me give you an example. When I was young, I caught Câru as a setter. When the score was right for us as the 80th minute approached, Nia Soren started yelling at us: “No mistake in the penalty area!” , “No gifts were given to the discount!”. What did we do in the last seconds of overtime? Nonsense foul near the penalty area, and through it he gave us a goal. Were we ashamed to hit the ball?! Did someone give us a “red” for this?!

Speaking of this discussion, how should we play: defensively, how did we get the greatest results in history, or offensively, more pleasing to the eye?
I answer simply: Do you have any other Hagi to play offensively? Do you have more “add me”? any stupid?

– We have another pilgrim, Iannis. Sure, he’s injured at the moment.
“When I say Hagee, I mean Jeka!” Iannis is a talented child, but there is a vast difference between him and his father. We no longer have leaders. We don’t have any exceptional players anymore. Exceptional for me is the striker who scores two goals on five occasions, who scores seven free kicks out of ten, the midfielder who makes ten dribbles per game, awarding passes or three assists…Team? We no longer have leaders, we no longer have exceptional players, but we expect great results. How do you get it?

– Do you have a solution?
– I told you before. If we don’t have what you said earlier, to “cut” to “break” the game, to invent something, we need a plan. plan to save us. But not a plan for today or tomorrow. Plan for 5 years at least 10 years. A project that must be adhered to regardless of the party in power. Investments must start at the lowest level, from children. People, nothing comes from the latter, absolutely nothing! This is pathetic! Is there another problem?

Mutu was the last true leader of the generation. From his retirement began the collapse of the national team.

“My idol is Balaci, now what are the idols of children?!”

– Which?
Today’s children no longer have idols, we have to work on that too, not just tear them down. I grew up near “Central” in Craiova. When I was young, I didn’t always have the money to go to the playground. However, when I was playing in college, I was there for two reasons. The first: hearing the rumble of the stands, with which I was emotionally charged. The second: to see Ily Palassi, Comitaro, Caro, Tevenescu, even from a distance. They were our idols. They were our heroes. Who would today’s children want to be?!

– Gabi Popescu, why doesn’t he play football, if he still has so many ideas?
– Because he doesn’t want to be. That’s enough, isn’t it?

– They are, but they do not look very good, because everything goes on a slope.
– Well, I saw that the president of the union was re-elected with the largest possible number of votes. If the people in charge of the clubs voted for him unanimously, then this means that he is fine, so what should I say?!

I’ve seen that everyone has been clamoring for Chiricheș, and that he’s made a terrible mistake in the last matches. Yes, he was wrong. But do you think we would have won without him?! Who do we put?! Do we have a lot of values?!

We are always looking a meter in front of our eyes, never in perspective. Without a general plan, for many years to come, we are hopeless!

In my day, it was somewhat simpler. When I didn’t have a solution, I gave it to my spell. And Jeka invented something. Now who would he give it to?!
Gabi Popescu

14 selectionsGabe Popescu met in the first team, during 1996-1998. He scored 1-1 with Spain in 1997

Romania – Croatia 0-1

  • CM, Final Eight, June 30, 1998
  • Bordeaux, L’Escure Stadium
  • Directed by: uker (45′-Pen)

Romania: Stelea – D. Petrescu (75′ L. Marinescu), L. Ciobotariu, Gh. Popescu, Filipescu, D. Munteanu – Gh. Hagi (56′ Craioveanu), G. Popescu (60′ R. Niculescu), Gâlcă – V Moldova, Ad. Elijah
specified: Angel Yordonescu

Croatia: Ladić – imić, Štimac, Bilić, Jarni – Stanić (82′ Tudor), Jurči, Boban, Asanovi – Vlaović (75′ Krpan), uker
specified: Miroslav Belshevich

Rule: Javier Castrelli (Argentina). Spectators: 35,000 spectators

Romania 1998 World Cup results

  • 1-0 with Colombia (goal by Adrian Elly)
  • 2-1 with England (Viorel Moldovan, Dan Petrescu)
  • 1-1 with Tunisia (Viorel Moldova)
  • 0-1 with Croatia

Read more stories from the Retro GSP series here!

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