Best Romanian footballers of all time; well, as soon as we say that, if you are somehow or other familiar with the Romanian football, the name, Gheorghe Hagi, will probably to your mind. But Hagi is not actually the only great footballer Romania has ever produced.
We mean the list of best Romanian soccer players of all time does not have only Hagi on it but also some other Romanian top footballers, though some believe Hagi is actually the greatest modern footballer Romania has ever produced.
The list of
best Romanian football players ever
actually contains some of the most famous Romanian footballers in history; footballers like Nicolae Dobrin and Ilie Balaci who although are not among modern Romanian footballers but their names will always be remembered in the history of Romanian football.
As we already mentioned, the list contains names such as Gheorghe Hagi and Nicoale Dobrin. But who else is on the list? Stay with us to know.
Number one on the list of
best Romanian footballers of all time
, Gheorghe Hagi is a 56-year-old retired footballer who played as an attacking midfielder during his career and for some top clubs such as Barcelona and Real Madrid, though he served the Turkish club,Galatasary
, more than any other club in his career and also made the most number of appearances and scored the most number of goals for; actually 73 goals in 192 appearances across all competitions which is even more than the number of appearances he made and goals he scored for his home-country club, Steaua București (88 goals in 118 appearances).
And it was with Galatasary that Hagi won the most number of his club trophies, too; actually 10 trophies including four Turkish Super League titles and 2 Turkish Super Cups. Hagi has also some individual honors to his name. In fact, that’s no exaggeration if we say he has more individual honors to his name than any other top Romanian footballer in history among them are the top-tier Romanian Liga 1 top scorer in 1985 and 1986, European Cup top scorer in 1987-88 season and Turkish Footballer of the Year in 1996, 1999, and 2000.
Although Hagi never won a Ballon d’or trophy during his career, he once finished fourth in the same trophy contest in 1994. He was also named on FIFA 100 list which is a list of the greatest living footballers composed by the Brazilian legend, Pele. And maybe that’s not all why Hagi is considered as the greatest Romanian footballer ever; he was a talented midfielder with top dribbling skills and great vision to score goals whose playstyle resembles to that of Diego Maradona more than any other Romanian footballer; a great modern footballer in its true sense; what actually no other Romanian footballer has achieved better than Hagi himself.
The first passed footballer on our list of best Romanian footballers of all time, Nicolae Dobrin played as an attacking midfielder for the Romanian clubs,Argeș Pitești
, FCM Targoviste, and CS Botosani during his 24-year-career which lasted from 1962 to 1986. Dobrin is mostly considered as an Argeș Pitești player since he served the Romanian club for the majority of his career; actually for 20 years and in two time periods while he only served the two other Romanian clubs mentioned above only for a season.
Considered as one of the greatest footballers Romania has ever produced, Dobrin was also named Romanian Footballer of the Year for three years; actually in 1966, 1967 and 1971. Maybe the biggest regret of Dobirn’s life is that he was not allowed by the then Romanian dictator, Nicolae Ceaușescu, to be transferred to Real Madrid for a then huge amount of $2 million just because Spain was considered an “enemy” country at the time and despite the fact that Real Madrid authorities were impressed by Dobrin’s performance on the pitch.
Considered as the second greatest Romanian footballer of all time after Gheorghe Hagi, Gheorghe Popescu is a 50-year-old retired footballer who played as a sweeper, center back, and midfielder during his playtime and for some top European clubs such asPSV Eindhoven
, Tottenham Hotspur, and Barcelona, though with 178 appearances overall, he made the most number of his club appearances for the Turkish club, Galatasaray - just like his fellowman, Gheorghe Hagi.
And if we just consider the number of club trophies Popescu has won, then except for Gheorghe Hagi, no other Romanian footballer on our list of best Romanian footballers of all time is in front of him. With an overall 15 club trophies, Popescu is only 4 trophies behind Gheorghe Hagi, and just like Hagi, he won the most number of his club trophies (7) with Galatasary including four Turkish Super League titles and two Turkish Super Cups. He also won 3 club trophies with Barcelona and PSV Eindhoven each including one UEFA Cup Winners' Cup with Barcelona and two Eredivisie titles with PSV Eindhoven.
Although Popescu is not as decorated as Hagi when it comes to individual honors, he actually was named Romanian Footballer of the Year for 6 years four of which were consecutive. He’s indeed one of the most famous Romanian footballers in history and the only footballer on the list alongside Adrian Mutu who has played for a Premier League club, namelyTottenham Hotspur
Another top footballer on our list of
best Romanian footballers of all time
, Adrian Mutu is the second youngest footballer on the list after his fellowman, Christian Chivu, who comes next. As mentioned above, the 42-year-old Mutu is also the only footballer on the list alongside Gheorghe Popescu who served a Premier League club, namely Chelsea, during his footballing time.
Although Mutu has won far less club trophies than Gheorghe Hagi and Gheorghe Popescu who lead the list of best Romanian football players ever in this regard, he was named Romanian Footballer of the Year in four years, namely in 2003, 2005, 2007, and 2008, Italian Cup top scorer in 2009-10 season when he served the Serie A club,Fiorentina
, and also on Fiorentina All-time XI. It should also be noted that Mutu served more clubs than both Hagi and Popescu during his footballing time including some top clubs such as Inter Milan, Juventus, Chelsea, and Parma.
In playstyle Mutu was often compared to his fellowman, Gheorghe Hagi. He could play both as an attacking midfielder and a forward and was good both at scoring and assisting goals. He was also a top set-piece and penalty taker, but his weak side was that he was prone to injury and never could realize his full potential.
And here comes the youngest footballer on the list of best Romanian footballers of all time: Christian Chivu. Chivu is a 40-year-old retired footballer - actually defender - who retired from professional football in 2014 after a 17-year career. The interesting fact about Chivu is that while top Romanian footballers, Ghehorghe Hagi and Gheorghe Popescu, served top European clubs like Barcelona for a year or two, Chivu served three top European clubs, namelyAjax
, AS Roma, and Inter Milan, for the majority of his career.
In fact, if we rate Romanian footballers based on the number of years they have served top European clubs, then Chivu should come first. He actually served the top European clubs mentioned above for 15 years of his 17-year career. And also concerning the number of club trophies Chivu won during his career, he’s just by a narrow margin of 5 trophies behind Gheorghe Hagi and one behind Gheorghe Popescu. He actually won 14 club trophies during his career 9 of which including three Serie A titles were when he was at Inter Milan, the club he served the most during his career; actually for 7 years between 2007 and 2014.
The second passed footballer on our list of
best Romanian footballers of all time
, Ilie Balaci only served Romanian clubs during his career the best of which was Dinamo Bucuresti, however, it was his mother club,Universitatea Craiova
, that he served more than any other club during his career; actually for 11 years between 1973 and 1984.
What is quite interesting about Ilie Balaci is that he managed 19 teams after his retirement as a player with most of them being Arabian ones including Al-Hilal of Saudi Arabia and Al-Ahli of UAE. This is actually a record among the top Romanian footballers on the list. We mean no other footballer among the best Romanian footballers of all time has managed that number of teams, if he has ever managed a team.
Balaci actually won more titles and trophies with the teams he managed than the teams he played for: He actually won 7 club trophies as a player and with his mother club, Universitatea Craiova, while he won 22 trophies with the teams he managed; more of a successful manager than a player!
Another top footballer on the list of best Romanian footballers of all time who could not foster his footballing skills in top European clubs just because he lived under the communist dictatorship of Nicolae Ceausescu. Impressed with Dumitrache’s performance in 1970 World Cup, Juventus wanted to sign the top Romanian footballer for a then huge amount of $1.5 million, but then again, the Romanian communist regime did not allow that to happen.
That said, you might have guessed that Dumitrache spent all his career in Romanian. That’s true; he actually served three Romanian clubs,Dinamo Bucuresti
, Jiul Petrosani, and Corvinul Hunedoara, and won 5 club trophies with them including three Romanian Liga 1 titles. He also won the Golden Boot Award of the same league in two seasons, namely 1968-69 and 1970-71 seasons.
Dumitrache was also a prolific goalscorer given that he was a striker. He actually scored 185 goals in the 381 club appearances that he made which translates to almost one goal in every two appearances. He also scored 15 goals in the 31 appearances that he made for the Romanian national team.
The third passed footballer on our list of best Romanian soccer players of all time, Jozsef Pecsovszky was a Romanian footballer with Hungarian origins. He actually served both Romanian and Hungarian national teams during his career, though the latter just for a year and he only made three appearances for them. So Pecsovszky is actually considered a Romanian footballer, and he only served Romanian clubs during his 22-year career which lasted from 1939 to 1961.
Why is Jozsef Pecsovszky one of the most
famous Romanian footballers in history
? Well, he was actually the first footballer ever to receive the Master of Sports Award - in 1952 - which was the second highest rank given to a sportsman or sportswoman and something close to “international champion” in the Soviet Union physical training system. Pecsovszky was also the first Romanian footballer to be called on a World Team alongside other big names in the world of football.
Pecsovszky died at a not-very-old age of 47 because of cancer. He won 8 club trophies with the Romanian clubs he served during his playing time and also served the Romanian national team for 11 years between 1948 and 1959 during which he made 32 appearances and scored 11 goals for them.
Actually the second top Romanian footballer who has managed the most number of teams after Ilie Balaci on the list of best Romanian football players ever, Laszlo Boloni has managed 14 club teams and also the Romanian national team - what Balaci did not manage - during his managerial career which still continues. Although there are Arabian teams likeAl-Ittihad
and Al-Wahda among the teams Boloni has managed, he has also managed European clubs like Rennes, Monaco, Nancy, and Sporting CP during his career.
And as a player? Boloni did not only play for Romanian clubs. He also served Racing Jet Wavre of Belgium, andCreteil
and Orleans of France, although just for a season or two - he actually served the Romanian club, ASA Targu Mures, for the majority of his career and was an essential member of the Steaua Bucuresti team who won the 1986 edition of the European Cup; the honor that Romania only achieved once and through the above-mentioned team.
Boloni has won almost the same number of club trophies both as a manager and a player. As a player he won 7 trophies and only with Steaua Bucuresti, and as a manager 8 trophies with 4 different clubs. Boloni was also named the Romanian Footballer of the Year in 1977 and 1983 and Belgian Manager of the Year in 2009.
The last passed footballer and the only goalkeeper on the list of
best Romanian soccer players of all time
, Ion Voinescu, died at the age of 88 in Bucharest, Romania, is considered as one of the best goalkeepers Romania has ever produced. The fact thatArsenal
were interested in him and wanted to secure his services for themselves alone shows that the top Romanian goalkeeper was talented enough to perform beyond the standards of his own country.
However, just like some other Romanian footballers’ talents remained undeveloped due to harsh restrictions of Ceausescu’s communist regime, Voinescu’s talent also suffered the same faith: He was never allowed to leave his country to play for Arsenal or any other team and served only Romanian clubs during his career. He actually served the top Romanian club, Steaua București, for the majority of his career and won 11 club trophies with them; actually 6 Romanian Liga 1 titles and 5 Romanian Cups.