Blast From The Past – Gheorghe Hagi


USA 94 wasn’t the best World Cup I’ve ever seen but it was probably the first one I properly watched. I was seven at the time of Italia ’90 and whilst aware of what was happening, it was more through passing and only the latter stages really caught my attention. Anyway, I digress. With England not qualifying thanks to Graham Taylor’s belief that the likes of Andy Sinton and Carlton Palmer were good enough to play international football, it left a tournament that I could watch as a neutral. I’d heard of the likes of Stoichkov, Hagi and Romario being a bit good but in the days before La Liga was widely broadcast I had yet to see much of them. By the end of the tournament I could see why they were so highly rated.

A bit good.

A bit good.

Gheorghe Hagi took Romania all the way to the quarter finals (their best ever performance) and scored one of the goals of the tournament with this delicious lob against Colombia. It’s not as if it was a fluke either, given he had shown Higuita warning signals not long before. Someone who played for both Real Madrid and Barcelona, he was one of the best attacking midfielders/number 10’s I’ve seen. Nicknamed “the Maradona of the Carpathians“, his similarity in size and playing style certainly justified those comparisons. Possessing a sweet left foot and part of one the great strikeforces in history (in ability if not achievement) alongside the aforementioned Romario and Stoichkov who destroyed many a defence for Barcelona in the 1994/95 season. Their humiliation of Man Utd in the Champions League in November 1994 did much to change Fergie’s approach in Europe. Though his success in major leagues was mainly in cups, he won plenty of league titles in Romania and Turkey, before going onto to a (as it stands) so-s0 coaching career. We’ll let him off though, and just focus on the best bits of his playing career.






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