Romania national football team

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 Romania
Shirt badge/Association crest
Nickname(s) Tricolorii (The Tricolours)
Association Federația Română de Fotbal (FRF)
Confederation UEFA (Europe)
Head coach Victor Pițurcă
Captain Ciprian Marica
Most caps Dorinel Munteanu (134)
Top scorer Gheorghe Hagi, Adrian Mutu (35)
Home stadium Arena Națională
FIFA code ROU
FIFA ranking 27 Increase 1 (14 August 2014)
Highest FIFA ranking 3 (September 1997)
Lowest FIFA ranking 57 (February 2011, September 2012)
Elo ranking 38 (9 July 2014)
Highest Elo ranking 5 (June 1990)
Lowest Elo ranking 42 (1949, 1960)
First colours
Second colours
First international
 Yugoslavia 1–2 Romania 
(Belgrade, Yugoslavia; 8 June 1922)
Biggest win
 Romania 9–0 Finland 
(Bucharest, Romania; 14 October 1973)
Biggest defeat
 Hungary 9–0 Romania 
(Budapest, Hungary; 6 June 1948)
World Cup
Appearances 7 (First in 1930)
Best result Quarter-finals, 1994
European Championship
Appearances 4 (First in 1984)
Best result Quarter-finals, 2000

The Romania national football team is the national football team of Romania and is controlled by the Romanian Football Federation.

Romania is one of only four national teams from Europe, the other three being Yugoslavia, France, and Belgium, that took part in the first World Cup in 1930.

However, after that performance, they only qualified for the 1934, 1938, 1970, 1990, 1994 and 1998 editions. Their finest hour came at the 1994 World Cup where Romania, led by playmaker Gheorghe Hagi, reached the quarter-finals by defeating South American powerhouse Argentina before losing to Sweden on a penalty shootout.

At the European Championships, Romania's best performance was in 2000 when they advanced to the quarter-finals from a group with Germany, Portugal and England before falling to eventual runners-up Italy. They also reached the last eight in 1960 and 1972, and qualified for the 1984, 1996 and 2008 tournaments.

History[edit]

Early years[edit]

The Romanian Football Federation (Federația Română de Fotbal) was established on October 1909 in Bucharest. Romania played their first international match on 8 June 1922, a 2–1 win over Yugoslavia in Belgrade, being coached by Teofil Moraru.[1] Several temporary coaches were employed, before Moraru resumed control in August 1924, managing the side for nearly four years. Romania enjoyed some success during the 1930s; manager Costel Rădulescu took them to the first three FIFA World Cup tournaments, a feat matched only by Brazil, Belgium and France.

World Cups in the 1930s[edit]

Romania playing against Peru at the 1930 World Cup in Uruguay.

At the 1930 World Cup, Romania won their first match against Peru, 3–1, with goals from Adalbert Desu, Constantin Stanciu and Nicolae Kovács and Samuel Zauber as goalkeeper, before being thrashed 4–0 by hosts and eventual winners Uruguay.

Romania qualified for the next World Cup in 1934 after beating Yugoslavia 2–1 in a repeat of their first international. At the finals, Romania played only one game in a new knock-out format, losing 2–1 to Czechoslovakia in Trieste, Italy, with Ștefan Dobay scoring their only goal of the tournament.

Romania qualified by default for the 1938 World Cup after their qualifying playoff opponents Egypt withdrew. They suffered a shock defeat in the finals in France, losing to minnows Cuba, who, like Romania, had only qualified due to the withdrawal of their qualifying opponents, USA. The first match at the Stade Chapou in Toulouse ended 3–3 after extra time, but Cuba won the replay four days later 2–1.

1970 World Cup[edit]

Participation in the World Cup was finally achieved once again in 1970 in Mexico, although qualification came on the back of a 3–0 thrashing by Portugal in Lisbon and two unconvincing draws against unfancied Greece. Angelo Niculescu's promising side were given the toughest of draws, in Group 3 with holders England, giants Brazil and Czechoslovakia.

A Geoff Hurst goal gave England a narrow victory in Romania's first match at the Estadio Jalisco in Guadalajara. Chances were improved with a 2–1 win over the Czechs. Despite going behind early to a Ladislav Petráš goal, Romania turned it around after half-time with Alexandru Neagu and Florea Dumitrache scoring to give them two vital points. Even then, only a win over the excellent Brazilians would take them into the Quarter Finals.

There were rumours before the match that Brazil might prefer Romania to progress than World Champions England; Despite beating them 1–0 in their previous match in Guadalajara, the South American giants still viewed England as one of their biggest obstacles to tournament victory. But Brazil played some of the best football of the competition, with Pelé scoring twice and a Jairzinho goal in between. Romania battled bravely; Dumitrache pulled the score back to 2–1 before the break and a late Emerich Dembrowski goal made it 3–2, but they were out.

1972 to 1978[edit]

On 26 September 1973, under new coach Valentin Stanescu, Romania suffered a significant defeat to East Germany in Leipzig. The East Germans won 2–0 to effectively seal their first ever qualification for the World Cup, which would be held over the border in West Germany. With East Germany scoring a predictable 4–1 win in Albania, Romania were out, despite a huge 9–0 win over Finland in Bucharest.

Romania continued to suffer poor form in the UEFA European Championship. In their qualifying group for the 1976 European Football Championship, they were out-qualified by Spain, despite an impressive 1–1 draw in the away match. Romania failed to win matches, drawing twice with Scotland and Spain and dropping points in Denmark with a dismal goalless draw.

Romania were again beat by Spain for a place in the 1978 World Cup in Argentina. Despite a 1–0 win in Bucharest, Romania lost a bizarre match at home to Yugoslavia 6–4 having led 3–2 at half time. Spain won 1–0 in Belgrade to seal passage to South America.

1984 European Championship[edit]

Romania's sole successful qualifying campaign was for the European Championships in 1984 in France. At the finals, Romania were drawn with regular rivals Spain, holders West Germany and dark horses Portugal. Under head coach Mircea Lucescu, an encouraging opening game in Saint-Étienne saw them draw with the Spanish. Francisco José Carrasco opened the scoring from the penalty spot but Romania equalized before half time with a goal from Laszlo Bölöni.

Against the Germans in Lens, Marcel Coraș scored an equalizer in the first minute of the second half in response to Rudi Völler's opener, but Völler would score a winning goal. Their last match in Nantes was a must-win match, but Nené's late winner meant Portugal progressed with Spain, who netted a dramatic late winner against West Germany at the Parc des Princes in Paris.

Romania stuttered throughout the rest of the decade, but a stronger squad at the end of the decade saw them qualify for their fifth World Cup at Italia 90. A win over Denmark in their last match took Emerich Jenei's side to the finals for the first time in twenty years.

Golden Team era[edit]

1990 World Cup[edit]

Romania's squad was entirely domestic-based, despite an increasing trend for the major sides in Italy and Spain buying up the best foreign talent. Midfielder Ilie Dumitrescu, striker Florin Răducioiu and genius playmaker Gheorghe Hagi, then of Steaua Bucharest, were in the squad, but it was forward Gavril Balint who would prove the hero in the first round.

With World Champions Argentina stunned by Cameroon in the tournament's opening match, Romania did their chances no harm with a convincing win over the USSR at the San Nicola in Bari, with Marius Lăcătuș scoring in either half. The result was all the more impressive given the absence of Hagi. There was controversy, however, as Lăcătus's second was a penalty given for a handball by Vagiz Khidiatullin that television replays clearly showed to be some way outside the penalty area.

Romania were the next victims of Cameroon in Bari. Cult hero Roger Milla, 38 years of age, came on as a substitute for Emmanuel Maboang Kessack and scored twice, before Balint pulled one back. Romania needed a point in their last match against improving Argentina at the San Paolo in Naples. Pedro Monzón gave Argentina the lead after an hour, but Balint quickly equalized and Romania held on to reach Round 2.

Against Jack Charlton's Ireland side in Genoa, Romania didn't have the quality to break down a defensive opposition. Daniel Timofte was the only player to miss in the penalty shoot-out – his kick saved by Packie Bonner – and Romania were out.

1994 World Cup[edit]

Romania missed out on Euro 92. Scotland qualified after Romania drew a must-win last match in Sofia against Bulgaria, with Nasko Sirakov's equalizer sealing their fate.

They were successful, though, in reaching another World Cup in the United States in 1994. Despite losing in Belgium and suffering a heavy 5–2 defeat in Czechoslovakia, Romania went into their last match at Cardiff Arms Park with Wales needing a win to pip them to a place in the finals. Goals from Gheorghe Hagi and Dean Saunders meant the game was finely balanced, before Wales were awarded a penalty. Paul Bodin of Swindon Town stepped up but hit the woodwork and Romania went on to win 2–1, Răducioiu's late goal proving unnecessary as Czechoslovakia dropped a point in Belgium and were knocked out.

At the finals, Romania were one of the most entertaining teams in the early stages with Hagi, Răducioiu and Dumitrescu on form. Romania beat Colombia – dark horses and Pelé's tip for the tournament – at the Pasadena Rose Bowl in Los Angeles 3–1. Răducioiu opened the scoring before Hagi scored a spectacular second from wide on the left touchline. Adolfo Valencia shredded their nerves with a headed goal just before half-time, but Romania held on and Răducioiu sealed the win with a late third.

In Detroit's Pontiac Silverdome, the temperature soared due to the greenhouse effect in the indoor arena. Switzerland, acclimatized after having already played the hosts there, outran Romania in the second half and turned a 1–1 half time score into a surprising 4–1 win. Romania responded by beating the hosts 1–0 in Pasadena with an early Dan Petrescu goal.

In Round 2 they faced Argentina, who were shorn of Diego Maradona who was thrown out of the tournament for taking drugs. Răducioiu, suspended, was hardly missed, as coach Anghel Iordănescu pushed Dumitrescu forward to play as a striker and the player responded by scoring twice in the first twenty minutes, one a superbly subtle left foot flick from a right-wing Hagi cross slotted between the Argentine defenders. In between, Gabriel Batistuta scored a penalty, but after half-time Romania netted a superb third on the counterattack, with Hagi beating goalkeeper Luis Islas. Abel Balbo pulled one back, but Romania held on for a shock win.

Romania would suffer penalty heartbreak again, in the Quarter Final against Sweden. With just thirteen minutes to go, a tight match opened up as Sweden's Thomas Brolin scored from a clever free-kick move, the ball passed outside the Romanian wall by Håkan Mild for Brolin to smash in. Iordănescu threw caution to the wind and the returning Răducioiu found a late equalizer, again from a free-kick move but this time down to a deflection and a failure of the Swedes to clear. In extra time Răducioiu scored again after a mistake by Patrik Andersson, but Sweden then scored their own late equalizer as giant striker Kennet Andersson climbed above goalkeeper Florin Prunea to head home a long ball. Prunea had come in after two matches to replace Bogdan Stelea, whose confidence was shattered by the 4–1 loss to the Swiss. In the shoot-out, Dan Petrescu and Miodrag Belodedici had their kicks saved by Thomas Ravelli and Sweden went through.

Euro 96[edit]

In England, Romania arrived as a highly thought-of and popular team but had a nightmare. Iordănescu's side were based in the north east, with their first two games at St James' Park in Newcastle. Against France, they lost to a Christophe Dugarry header reminiscent of Kennet Andersson's two years earlier, beating the goalkeeper to a lofted through ball. An early goal from Bulgaria striker Hristo Stoichkov at St James' Park put Romania on the back foot in Euro 96, but Dorinel Munteanu appeared to have kept Romania in the match – and in the tournament – with a thunderbolt that hit the bar, bounced over the line, and back out. Referee Peter Mikkelsen merely waved play on, however, and Romania went on to lose the game 1–0 a defeat which sent them out of the tournament. English manager Harry Redknapp was in the crowd that day, and later said that it convinced him there and then that goal-line technology was needed in football. Romania finally scored in their last game, Florin Răducioiu equalizing an early goal by Spain's Javier Manjarín. Spain had to win to qualify with France at the expense of Bulgaria and did so when Guillermo Amor stooped to head a late winner. Romania exited in total shame, with no points and tons of regrets of what could have been.

1998 World Cup[edit]

Despite a dreadful Euro 96, Romania impressed in qualifying, finishing ten points clear of Ireland and were seeded for the final tournament of the 1998 World Cup thanks to their strong USA 94 showing. Despite being drawn in a group with England, getting through it was perceived to be easy work with a waning Colombia and minnows Tunisia.

Adrian Ilie scored the only goal with a fine chip in their first match against Colombia at Lyon's Stade Gerland. In Toulouse, they met an England side starting with prodigal striker Michael Owen on the bench, with Teddy Sheringham preferred alongside Alan Shearer. A mistake by Tony Adams was punished by Viorel Moldovan, who played for Coventry City, before Owen came on to claim an equalizer. But Romania won with a wonderful late goal from Dan Petrescu, also playing in England with Chelsea, fighting off his club mate Graeme le Saux and nutmegging goalkeeper David Seaman.

The next match was against Tunisia. Romania decided to bleach their hair before the match. Despite England v Colombia being the more decisive game, the Stade de France in Paris was an 80,000 sell out and the crowd were nearly rewarded with a shock as Skander Souayah scored an early penalty to give the north Africans the lead. Romania needed a point to win the group and, crucially, avoid Argentina in Round 2, and got it when Moldovan volleyed a late equalizer. It did them little good, however, as in the Round of 16 match at Bordeaux against Croatia, Davor Šuker scored a twice-taken penalty and Romania were out.

Euro 2000[edit]

Romania started brightly against the Germans in Liège, with Moldovan scoring from close range. A long-range Mehmet Scholl equalizer meant they had to be content with a point and their position looked shaky after Costinha headed a last minute winner for Portugal in their second match.

Emerich Jenei, back as coach, threw caution to the wind in the last match in Charleroi against England, a match which Romania had to win. Defender Cristian Chivu's cross went in off the post in the 22nd minute but, despite Romania dominating, England led at half-time through an Alan Shearer penalty and a late Michael Owen goal after he rounded Bogdan Stelea to score a tap-in, both in the last five minutes of the half. Romania attacked after the break and were quickly rewarded; Dorinel Munteanu punishing a poor punch from Nigel Martyn, a late replacement for the injured Seaman to equalize three minutes after the restart. England cracked under the pressure. Unable to retain possession or pose an attacking threat, they fell deep and late on Phil Neville, playing out of position at left-back, conceded a penalty scored by Ioan Ganea in the 89th minute.

Romania's relief was tempered by tough opposition in the last eight, and Italy, who would end up seconds from being crowned European champions in an agonizing final, comfortably saw them off 2–0 in Brussels. Francesco Totti and Filippo Inzaghi scoring towards the end of the first half. In the 35th minute Hagi, in his final international tournament, hit the woodwork with goalkeeper Francesco Toldo stranded off his line and, after the break, was sent off for diving. Romania's tournament was over and Jenei left his job as coach again.

Recent years[edit]

2000s – Near Misses[edit]

Romania failed to qualify for the next three major tournaments. They drew Slovenia, who had been surprise qualifiers for Euro 2000 in a playoff for a place in the 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan. A narrow 2–1 deficit – having led through a Marius Niculae goal – after the first leg in Ljubljana was not irretrievable. With fans' hero Gheorghe Hagi now coaching the side they were confident of getting the win they needed in Bucharest against the Balkan upstarts, but Slovenia took the lead before the hour through Mladen Rudonja. Right wing-back Cosmin Contra quickly equalized but Romania could not find the goal they needed to force extra time and Slovenia, with maverick manager Srečko Katanec, were in a major tournament again.

Euro 2004[edit]

Romania were confident of qualifying for the tournament, drawn in Group 2 with seeds Denmark, Norway, Bosnia-Herzegovina and minnows Luxembourg,with Anghel Iordanescu back as their coach. Despite a good start – a 3–0 win away to Bosnia in Sarajevo, Romania stuttered. Steffen Iversen's late goal gave Norway a surprise win in Bucharest and they were stunned at home by the Danes, 5–2, with Thomas Gravesen scoring a spectacular goal from around fifty yards out, despite leading twice. They recovered slightly, completing a double over the Bosnians and getting a point in Oslo, but conceded a cutting injury time equalizer in Denmark to draw 2–2. It was decisive, as they now required Norway to fail to win at home to Luxembourg to stand any realistic chance of qualifying. Eventually, the Danes got a point in Bosnia to scrape through a tight group, with Norway going to a play-off with Spain.

2006 World Cup[edit]

Romania were put in a massive group for the qualifying tournament for the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany. The Netherlands and Czech Republic were favourite to qualify, then ranked first and second in Europe. Early wins over Finland and Macedonia were unconvincing, and they were some way behind the two leaders by the time they earned a good 2–0 home win over the Czechs. Despite a record of eight wins, three losses, and one draw they finished third behind the Dutch and the Czechs and missed out on another major tournament.

Euro 2008[edit]

Romania were drawn in a group with group favourites the Netherlands and tough opponents Bulgaria for the UEFA Euro 2008 Qualifying. However, on 17 October 2007, Romania became the fourth team to qualify for Euro 2008. This was the team's first big championships since Euro 2000, eight years before. Victor Pițurcă also qualified Romania for Euro 2000, only to sit back and let Emerich Jenei coach the team in the final tournament. This time, however, he stayed. It was the first time he coached a national team in the final stages of a tournament.

They were drawn in the so-called "Group of Death" with their old "friends" the Netherlands (they played each other both in the Euro 2008 qualifying group and in the 2006 World Cup qualifying group), Italy, the 2006 FIFA World Cup winners and France, runners-up in the 2006 FIFA World Cup. They started with a 0–0 draw against a luckstre France while world champions Italy was soundly beaten by the Netherlands, 3–0. In their next game against Italy, Adrian Mutu, playing for Italian club ACF Fiorentina, opened the scoring early in the second half. Their lead was a very short one, as Christian Panucci scored a minute later, with the aid of a corner kick. Nearing the end of the match, Daniel Niculae obtained a penalty for his team, but Gianluigi Buffon saved the shot from Mutu, leaving Romania with two points and needing a win against the Netherlands, who eradicated France 4–1 on the same evening. The Netherlands beat Romania 2–0 in the final game of the group, which meant that Italy joined the Netherlands in the quarter finals and Romania finished 3rd, ahead of France.

2010 World Cup[edit]

Romanian fans at Arena Națională

Romania were drawn into the UEFA qualifying round for the 2010 FIFA World Cup along with France, with whom they played at the UEFA Euro 2008, Serbia, Austria, Lithuania and the Faroe Islands. Although Romania were seeded in the second pot, suggesting that they were a strong challenge for the first place in the group, they eventually finished fifth, above only Faroe Islands. Their campaign was a disaster that began with a 3–0 home loss to Lithuania and included a 5–0 trashing at Belgrade by Serbia. Furthermore, various problems were caused during the poor campaign, such as the retirement from international football of Cosmin Contra, Mirel Radoi and Adrian Mutu (the latter would be later called again after a year). Also, coach Victor Pițurcă resigned and was replaced by the son of well-known Romanian coach Mircea Lucescu, Răzvan Lucescu.

2014 World Cup[edit]

Romania were drawn into the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying round with old rivals Netherlands, as well as Turkey, Hungary, Estonia and Andorra. Romania, Turkey and Hungary were expected to battle it out for second place behind the Netherlands. They made an impressive start with a 2–0 away win in Estonia followed by a 4–0 win at home against modest Andorra and another away win in Turkey (1–0). After that, it was defeated by Netherlands, both at home and away, and managed to secure only a draw in Hungary, in between. Romania started the last part of the campaign with a victory at home, against Hungary, but was defeated by Turkey. The last two match days were decisive, with Romania securing its place in the Play-off with two wins, against Andorra and Estonia, while the rivals, Turkey and Hungary, were both defeated by the winner of the group, Netherlands. Romania were drawn to play Greece for a place in the world cup finals, but a 3–1 loss in Greece and a 1–1 home draw ended their run.

Stadium[edit]

Main article: Arena Națională

Romania national team plays its home games at Arena Națională, the biggest stadium in the country, built in 2011 and with a capacity of 55,600 places.

The National Stadium is a Category 4 venue and as such, it hosted the UEFA Europa League 2011–12 final.

Some friendly matches or minor FIFA World Cup and UEFA European Football Championship qualification matches are played at other venues.

Former national stadium which held 60,120 places was completely demolished at the end of 2007. The last football match played was a 6–1 win against Albania on 21 November 2007.

A Panorama view of the National Stadium

Honours[edit]

Kit history[edit]

WC 1930-1934 Home[2][2]
WC 1938 Home[3]
WC 1970 Home
WC 1970 Away
Euro 1984 Home
Euro 1984 Away
WC 1990 Home
WC 1990 Away
1994 Home
1994 Away
1996 Home
1998 Home
1998 Away
2000 Home
2006 Home
2008 Home
2008 Away
2010 Home
2010 Away
2012 Home

Romania's kit are currently supplied by Adidas.

Media coverage[edit]

Romania's qualifying matches and friendlies are currently televised on TVR 1. Digi Sport also broadcasts the games from the European Championship qualifying stage, but only recorded pictures.

Competitive record[edit]