Săpunaru training with Porto in 2011
|Full name||Ionuț Cristian Săpunaru|
|Date of birth||5 April 1984|
|Place of birth||Bucharest, Romania|
|Height||1.87 m (6 ft 1 1⁄2 in)|
|Playing position||Defender / Defensive midfielder|
|2003–2004||→ Callatis Mangalia (loan)||10||(0)|
|2010||→ Rapid București (loan)||10||(3)|
|2015–2016||Pandurii Târgu Jiu||22||(5)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 18 March 2017.
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 15 November 2016
Ionuț Cristian "Cristi" Săpunaru (born 5 April 1984) is a Romanian professional footballer who plays for Astra Giurgiu and the Romania national team mainly as a right back. He can also be deployed as a central defender or a defensive midfielder.
He began his senior career in 2002 with Național București, and went on to make a name for himself at Rapid București. In 2008, he signed with Porto in Portugal where he won ten major honours over the course of four years, including the 2011 Europa League. After two additional seasons in Spain playing for Zaragoza and Elche, he returned to his native country in 2015.
Early years / Porto
Săpunaru was born in Bucharest. A product of FC Național București, joining its youth system at the age of only 6, Săpunaru signed with FC Rapid București in July 2006. In the summer of 2008, he was sold for €2.5 million to FC Porto as a replacement for Chelsea-bound José Bosingwa and signed a five-year contract with the Primeira Liga club owning 50% of the player's rights – Romanian sources indicated the price was actually €6 million plus two players.
During his debut campaign, Săpunaru was first-choice right-back as the northerners achieved a double, and scored his first goal in a 1–2 away loss against C.D. Nacional for the League Cup. In early February 2010, he was suspended in Portugal – as his teammate Hulk – following incidents during a 0–1 league defeat at S.L. Benfica, so he returned to his country for a five-month loan and moved to former side Rapid; he did not manage to be played regularly at Porto during that time but, following his return for 2010–11, became a very important first-team unit as they won three major titles, appearing in 40 official games in the process.
In his first season in Aragon, Săpunaru started but also suffered team relegation. He also entered his name in the competition's history books, after breaking the record for the most bookings in a single campaign (19 yellow cards and one red).
After initially hesitating because of the requests of his partner, Săpunaru signed a one-year deal at fellow league team Elche CF on 25 July 2013. He totalled only nine appearances in his only campaign and was also sent off twice, while his sole goal opened a 1–2 loss at Valencian Community neighbours Levante UD on 13 December.
Return to Romania
After four months back at Rapid, Săpunaru signed a season-long deal at CS Pandurii Târgu Jiu on 6 September 2015, including a clause that he could leave instantly if a foreign club wanted him. The following 21 July, he put pen to paper to a two-year contract with fellow league side FC Astra Giurgiu.
Săpunaru made his debut for the Romanian national team on 31 May 2008 against Montenegro, and was selected to the nation's squad at UEFA Euro 2008, although he did not play in the final stages. From June 2011 to November 2015, he did not appear in any games for his country due to a conflict with manager Victor Pițurcă.
- Rapid București
- UEFA Europa League: 2010–11
- Primeira Liga: 2008–09, 2010–11, 2011–12
- Taça de Portugal: 2008–09, 2009–10, 2010–11
- Supertaça Cândido de Oliveira: 2009, 2010, 2011
- UEFA Super Cup: Runner-up 2011
- Rapid's Săpunaru plumps for Porto; UEFA.com, 14 July 2008
- Ce transfer!!! Sapunaru la FC Porto pentru 6 milioane + 2 jucatori (We have a transfer!!! Sapunaru to FC Porto for 6 million + 2 players); Sport Magazin, 9 July 2008 (Romanian)
- Sapunaru to return on loan to Rapid Bucharest; Romanian Times, 1 February 2010
- "Futebolistas do FC Porto condenados no caso do túnel da Luz" [FC Porto footballers condemned in tunnel of Luz case] (in Portuguese). Expresso. 17 February 2014. Retrieved 15 September 2014.
- "FC Porto: jogadores condenados no caso do "túnel da Luz"" [FC Porto: players condemned in the "tunnel of Luz" case] (in Portuguese). Relvado. 17 February 2014. Retrieved 15 September 2014.
- "Túnel da Luz. Futebolistas condenados a indemnizar "stewards"" [Tunnel of Luz. Footballers condemned to compensate stewards] (in Portuguese). iOnline. 17 February 2014. Retrieved 15 September 2014.
- "Cristian Sapunaru se une a la plantilla del Real Zaragoza" [Cristian Sapunaru joins Real Zaragoza roster] (in Spanish). Real Zaragoza. 31 August 2012. Retrieved 1 September 2012.
- "La Real se aprovecha de un inocente Zaragoza" [Real takes advantage of innocent Zaragoza] (in Spanish). Marca. 16 September 2012. Retrieved 16 September 2012.
- "Sapu cel galben » Săpunaru a rămas în istoria Primera Division: a depăşit recordul de cartonaşe galbene" [Sapu the yellow » Săpunaru makes history in Primera Division: yellow cards record broken] (in Romanian). Gazeta Sporturilor. 28 May 2013. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
- "La dama no es de Elche" [The lady is not from Elche] (in Spanish). Marca. 19 July 2013. Retrieved 12 June 2016.
- "El defensa rumano Sapunaru ficha por el Elche" [Romanian defender Săpunaru signs for Elche] (in Spanish). La Liga. 25 July 2013. Retrieved 12 June 2016.
- "Late joy for Levante". Sky Sports. 13 December 2013. Retrieved 12 June 2016.
- "Elche looking to offload Cristian Sapunaru due to high wage demands". Inside Spanish Football. 30 June 2014. Retrieved 12 June 2016.
- "Elche announce Sapunaru departure". Inside Spanish Football. 21 August 2014. Retrieved 12 June 2016.
- "Sapunaru suspende el juicio y negociará su despido con el Elche" [Săpunaru suspends judgement and will negotiate his dismissal with Elche] (in Spanish). Diario Información. 12 October 2015. Retrieved 12 June 2016.
- "Cristi Săpunaru a semnat cu Pandurii! Clauză specială în contractul valabil un sezon" [Cristi Săpunaru signed for Pandurii! Special clause in season-long contract] (in Romanian). Digi Sport. 6 September 2015. Retrieved 12 June 2016.
- "Săpunaru – astrist cu acte!" [Săpunaru – astrist in action!] (in Romanian). FC Astra Giurgiu. 21 July 2016. Retrieved 22 July 2016.
- "Veste bună pentru Iordănescu. Un jucător tras pe linie moartă de Pițurcă e gata să revină la națională" [Good news for Iordănescu. A player that was kicked by Pițurcă is ready to return to the national team] (in Romanian). Stiridesport. 7 March 2015. Retrieved 10 June 2016.
- "VIDEO EXCLUSIV A fost ignorat de Pițurcă, acum rupe tăcerea: "Dacă ne întâlnim, îl ocolesc, sau mă ocolește el"" [EXCLUSIV VIDEO He was ignored by Pițurcă, now he breaks the silence: "If we meet, I avoid him, or he avoids me"] (in Romanian). Digi Sport. 7 October 2015. Retrieved 10 June 2016.
- "Romania Euro 2016 squad". The Daily Telegraph. 17 May 2016. Retrieved 10 June 2016.
- "Dimitri Payet nets superb late winner for France vs. Romania". ESPN FC. 10 June 2016. Retrieved 10 June 2016.
- "C. Săpunaru". Soccerway. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
- "Cristian Sapunaru". Footballdatabase. Retrieved 16 February 2015.
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