FC Unirea Urziceni
|Full name||Fotbal Club Unirea Urziceni|
|Nickname(s)||Chelsea of Ialomiţa
Wolves of Bărăgan
Fotbal Club Unirea Urziceni (commonly known as Unirea Urziceni, Romanian pronunciation: [uˈnire̯a urziˈt͡ʃenʲ]) was a Romanian professional football club from Urziceni. Unirea became national champions in 2009, at the end of their third season in the top-flight.
The club was founded in 1954, and spent the majority of its history in the lower tiers of the Romanian league system. In 2007 they reached Liga I for the first time, and received national praise for their results at this level. At the end of their second season in the top division they earned qualification to Europe, and one year later they claimed the domestic title. In 2010, the team's owner withdrew financial support and Urziceni was forced to sell most of its players to pay debts, leading to relegation at the end of the 2010–11 season.
In the summer of 2011, owner Dumitru Bucşaru did not file for a licence for the club to play in the Liga II, and decided not to enroll the team in any championship. Unirea Urziceni was subsequently dissolved.
The first sporting club in Urziceni was a basketball club called "Ialomiţa". On an improvised pitch at Obor, the football team "Ialomiţa" played against teams from Ploieşti, Buzău, and Slobozia. They also played many games against Germans settled around the local lake, from which they took the name “La Nemţi” (“At the Germans'”).
In 1976 a new stadium, Tineretului, was inaugurated.
Prior to their promotion to Divizia B at the end of the 2002–03 season, the club had spent its entire history playing in the lower leagues of the Romanian football league system, mostly in Divizia C and Divizia D.
In 2003 the club was taken over by a new sponsor, Valahorum. At the end of the 2005–06 season the club finished second in the Seria 2 of the Divizia B. Following the play-offs, played against Forex Braşov and Bihor Oradea, at Stadionul Naţional, the club was promoted to the Liga I for the very first time in its history.
The club finished 10th in its first season in the top division. In the Liga I 2007–08, they finished 5th and reached the cup final. Manager and former Chelsea player Dan Petrescu nicknamed the team Chelsea of Ialomiţa. The following season the club won the league for the first time, after they beat Timişoara 2–1, and qualified for the Champions League.
The club finished 3rd in the 2009–10 UEFA Champions League Group stage, obtaining 8 points. They beat Rangers 4–1 in Glasgow and Sevilla in Bucharest 1–0 and drew 1–1, with VfB Stuttgart and Rangers at Bucharest. In the 2009–10 UEFA Europa League Knockout stage, Urziceni were drawn against English giants Liverpool. In the first round, at Anfield, Liverpool won 1–0, and at Bucharest, Unirea lost again, 1–3.
Unirea finished 2nd the 2009–10 Liga I season, again qualifying for the UEFA Champions League. In the third qualifying round, Unirea finished 0–0 against Zenit St. Petersburg at Bucharest. In Russia, they lost 1–0, with Danny scoring in the 33rd minute. In the Europa League Play-off round Unirea played against Hajduk Split. They lost in the first game played at Poljud 4–1, and drew, 1–1, at Bucharest.
Decline and dissolution
In 2010, Unirea Urziceni started to decline. Dumitru Bucşaru sold almost the entire team during the first half of the championship, in the account of a debit to the Steaua owner Gigi Becali. In the second half of the season, Unirea loaned players from Steaua II Bucureşti and Dinamo II Bucureşti, but failed to maintain their place in the Liga I, finishing the season on 17th place. Even if Unirea can spare from the relegation, the club didn't solicit license and was dissolved in 2011.
Both of the club's nicknames originated during Dan Petrescu's period with the club.
Urziceni have been associated with Chelsea by the Romanian media after they quickly evolved from a newly promoted team to a title contender under the management of former Chelsea defender Dan Petrescu. His role was seen similar to that of Roman Abramovich, who started to invest massively in Chelsea in 2003, turning them in one of the best teams in Europe.
Dan Petrescu is also responsible for coining the Wolves of Bărăgan nickname. During training sessions and official fixtures, he used to call his player Wolves in order to increase their ferociousness. Bărăgan refers to the plain in which the town of Urziceni is located.
Both of these nicknames were rarely used by the Romanian media, who usually referred to the team as Ialomiţenii, after the Ialomiţa County from where the club was based.
The club played its home matches at the Stadionul Tineretului, which has a capacity of 7,000 seats. Due to its small capacity, among other things, the club played its European matches at the Steaua Stadium in Bucharest.
- Runners-up (1): 2005–06
- Runners-up (1): 2007–08
|UEFA Champions League / European Cup||2||8||2||3||3||8||9||–1|
|UEFA Europa League / UEFA Cup||3||6||0||2||4||3||11||–8|
Notable former players
- COMISIA DE DISCIPLINĂ A FEDERAŢIEI ROMÂNE DE FOTBAL
- "Bucşaru a desfiinţat oficial Unirea Urziceni!". Pro Sport. 27 June 2011. Retrieved 29 June 2011.
- "European roundup-Bordeaux clinch title, Betis down". Reuters. 1 June 2009. Retrieved 23 July 2009.[dead link]