Ilie Balaci

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Ilie Balaci
Ilie Balaci echipa nationala.jpg
Personal information
Date of birth (1956-09-13)13 September 1956
Place of birth Bistreț, Romania
Date of death 21 October 2018(2018-10-21) (aged 62)
Place of death Craiova, Romania
Height 1.71 m (5 ft 7 in)
Playing position(s) Midfielder
Youth career
1965–1973 Universitatea Craiova
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1973–1984 Universitatea Craiova 285 (76)
1985–1986 Olt Scornicești 30 (7)
1986–1988 Dinamo București 32 (1)
Total 347 (84)
National team
1974–1986 Romania 65 (8)
Teams managed
1988–1989 Pandurii Târgu Jiu
1989–1991 Drobeta Turnu-Severin
1991–1992 Club Africain
1992–1994 Olympique Casablanca
1994–1996 Al-Shabab
1996–1997 Al-Nassr
1997–1998 Al-Hilal
1998 FC U Craiova
1998–2000 Al-Ain
2000–2001 Al-Hilal
2001 FC U Craiova
2001–2002 Al-Sadd
2002–2003 Al-Hilal
2003–2005 Al-Ahli
2005–2006 Al-Arabi
2006 Al-Shabab
2007–2009 FC U Craiova (general manager)
2009–2010 Kazma
2011 Raja Casablanca
2013 Al-Nahda
2016 Al-Hilal Omdurman
2017–2018 Al-Suwaiq
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Ilie Balaci (Romanian pronunciation: [iˈli.e ˈbalat͡ʃʲ]; 13 September 1956 – 21 October 2018) was a Romanian football midfielder and manager.

He spent 12 of his 15 years as a professional with Universitatea Craiova, appearing in more than 300 official games with the club and winning seven major titles. Nicknamed Minunea blondă ("the Blonde Wonder"), Balaci is considered one of the greatest Romanian footballers of all time.[1][2]

Playing career[edit]

Club career[edit]

Balaci was a product of Universitatea Craiova's youth system. He made his first team debut in 1973, at the age of 16, and won the league title in his first season. He soon managed to become one of the youngest players ever to score in the Romanian League. Balaci went on to play twelve seasons with Craiova, helping them to win two consecutive league titles in 1980 and 1981. He also won the Romanian Cup four times, in the years 1977, 1978, 1981 and 1983. He became an integral part of the team helping them reach the 1982–83 UEFA Cup semi-finals, before moving to Olt Scorniceşti in the winter of 1984. In December 1982, he signed a pre-contract with Italian side AC Milan, but the transfer did not materialize because of the communist regime in Romania.[3]

In the 1986–87 season, he jointed Bucharest rivals Dinamo Bucureşti together with Craiova teammate Rodion Cămătaru. He spent two seasons at the club, under the leadership of Mircea Lucescu.[4] However, Balaci did not win any major trophies whilst he was playing for them and following a knee injury he had to retire from football.[5]

International career[edit]

Balaci made his full international debut on 23 March 1974 in a friendly match against France at the age of 17. He earned 65 caps and scored 8 goals for the Romanian national team between 1974 and 1986.[7]

He also became captain of the national team during the UEFA Euro 1984 qualifying campaign, but he was unable to play for Romania at UEFA Euro 84 due to an injury.[8]

Managerial career[edit]

After retiring as a footballer, Balaci went on to coach lower league sides Pandurii Târgu Jiu and Drobeta-Turnu Severin. In 1991, he coached clubs in North Africa and the Arab world, he became one of the most successful managers there having won over 22 major trophies domestic and international.[9][10][11]

He took charge of Tunisia's Club Africain and Moroccan club Olympique Casablanca in the early 1990s guiding them to their first African Champions League, the league title and the Tunis Cup. He then managed UAE, Qatari and Saudi Arabian clubs Al Shabab, Al Nassr, Al-Hilal, Al Ain and Al Sadd winning the championship and domestic cup with each side.[12][13] In June 2003, he was appointed manager of Al Ahli until January 2005, where he won the UAE President's Cup.[14] He then went on to join Qatari side Al-Arabi in the 2005–06 season, before moving to the United Arab Emirates club Al Shabab for a second spell, but without success.[15] In August 2007, Balaci was hired as general manager of Universitatea Craiova whom he also coached in two periods, and remained there for two seasons. On 22 July 2009, Balaci was named head coach of Kuwait club Kazma. He had an impressive start with the Kuwaiti side at the 2010 AFC Cup.[16]

On 11 July 2011, he returned to Morocco signing for Raja Casablanca but was sacked following a financial dispute with the club in September after just two months. Raja appointed Bertrand Marchand as his replacement.[17]

On 4 June 2013, Balaci signed a contract with newly promoted Saudi Premier League side Al-Nahda saving the club from relegation.[18] In September 2013, he was sacked as coach due to a poor start to the season with only one point from the first four matches.[19]

In April 2016, he took over the head coach position at Omdurman-based club Al-Hilal.[20] Balaci was sacked in September 2016 after the team clinched the title with three games left to play. Balaci thought that the club's owners did not want the title win associated with his name.[21]

In July 2017, Balaci was unveiled as the new manager of Omani side Al-Suwaiq. Although the team was assured of top of the championship with 38 points from 15 games Balaci decided to terminate his contract in March 2018 with 12 games left on the season.[22]

Managerial overview[edit]

Season Club[23] Titles
1988–89 Pandurii Târgu Jiu
1989–90 Drobeta Turnu-Severin
1990–91 Drobeta Turnu-Severin
1991–92 Club Africain CAF Champions League, Afro-Asian Club Championship, Tunisian League, Tunisia Cup
1992–93 Olympique Casablanca Arab Cup Winners' Cup, Moroccan Cup
1993–94 Olympique Casablanca Arab Cup Winners' Cup, Moroccan League
1994–95 Al Shabab UAE Pro-League
1995–96 Al Shabab UAE President's Cup
1996–97 Al Nasr Gulf Club Champions Cup
1997–98 Al Hilal Gulf Club Champions Cup, Saudi Premier League
1998–99 Universitatea Craiova
1998–99 Al Ain UAE President's Cup
1999–00 Al Ain UAE Pro-League
2000–01 Al Hilal Arab Cup Winners' Cup, Asian Super Cup
2000–01 Universitatea Craiova
2001–02 Al Sadd Arab Champions League, Emir of Qatar Cup
2002–03 Al Hilal Saudi Crown Prince Cup
2003–04 Al Ahli UAE President's Cup
2004–05 Al Ahli
2005–06 Al Arabi
2006–07 Al Shabab
2009–10 Kazma
2011–12 Raja Casablanca
2013–14 Al-Nahda
2016 Al-Hilal Omdurman Sudan Premier League
2017–18 Al-Suwaiq Club

Personal life[edit]

Balaci said that he was born on 8 September 1956 but his birth date was declared by his relatives to the People's Council only on 13 September 1956.[24] He had two daughters; the older one Lorena was married to footballer Eugen Trică and is divorced since 2015,[25] and the younger one, Liana Ungur is a professional tennis player and she is married to Adrian Ungur.[26]


Balaci died on 21 October 2018, aged 62, while at home in Craiova with his mother. The cause of death was myocardial infarction.[27][28]


  1. ^ "Ilie Balaci echipa națională" (in Romanian). Romanian Football Federation. Archived from the original on 14 October 2013. Retrieved 18 March 2011.
  2. ^ "Romania mourns Ilie Balaci". UEFA. 21 October 2018. Retrieved 22 October 2018.
  3. ^ "Comuniştii au blocat transferurile românilor". Adevărul (in Romanian). 14 November 2011. Retrieved 16 December 2011.
  4. ^ "Ilie Balaci a murit. Lumea fotbalului îl omagiază pe Ilie Balaci: "Odihneşte-te în pace, iubită legendă!"". A1.RO. Retrieved 21 October 2018.
  5. ^ "Experienced Balaci on a mission to transform Al Suwaiq". Retrieved 21 October 2018.
  6. ^ "Ilie BALACI". Retrieved 21 October 2018.
  7. ^ "Ilie Balaci , International Appearances". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. 26 April 2009. Retrieved 19 March 2010.
  8. ^ "Ilie Balaci şi cea mai tristă noapte: cum a aflat că nu va juca la EURO 1984. "Nici nu mi s-a explicat"". Retrieved 21 October 2018.
  9. ^ "Le Roumain Ilie Balaci à la tête du Raja de Casablanca". Aujourd'hui Le Maroc (in French). 13 July 2011. Archived from the original on 14 July 2011. Retrieved 17 November 2011.
  10. ^ "Ilie Balaci a castigat Cupa Presedintelui". (in Romanian). 4 June 2004. Retrieved 21 April 2010.
  11. ^ "Balaci tinteste inca un trofeu". Gazeta de Sud (in Romanian). 23 April 2004. Retrieved 4 May 2010.
  12. ^ "Ilie Balaci all set to sign with Al Ahli". 7 June 2003. Retrieved 21 August 2010.
  13. ^ "Al Nasr, the Saudi vanguard". 27 October 2010. Archived from the original on 22 December 2010. Retrieved 11 December 2010.
  14. ^ "Meseria mea este de antrenor". Gazeta de Sud (in Romanian). 20 January 2005. Retrieved 25 September 2010.
  15. ^ "My players showed the right character". 4 October 2006. Retrieved 27 February 2010.
  16. ^ "That's the spirit, beams Balaci". 17 March 2010. Archived from the original on 13 September 2012. Retrieved 20 March 2010.
  17. ^ "Marchand nouvel entraîneur". L'Équipe (in French). 25 September 2011. Retrieved 26 September 2011.
  18. ^ "Ilie Balaci, new coach of Al Nahdha". 4 June 2013. Archived from the original on 12 December 2013. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
  19. ^ "Un antrenor român a luat 800.000 $ pentru 1 punct! •". (in Romanian). 26 September 2013. Retrieved 21 October 2018.
  20. ^ الهلال يتعاقد رسميا مع بلاتشي. Al-Hilal Omdurman (in Arabic). 20 April 2016. Archived from the original on 15 August 2016. Retrieved 5 May 2016.
  21. ^ ""Minunea blondă", peripeţii în Sudan. Ajuns în Africa, Ilie Balaci a fost dat afară când se pregătea să câştige campionatul pentru a nu încasa prima de titlu. Reacţia fostului mare fotbalist". ProSport. Retrieved 21 October 2018.
  22. ^ "Ilie Balaci s-a despărțit de Al-Suwaiq, deși era lider detașat în Oman". GSP (in Romanian). Retrieved 21 October 2018.
  23. ^ "Ilie Balaci". Retrieved 21 October 2018.
  24. ^ "Ilie Balaci, antrenor şi fost fotbalist: 'La 10 ani jucam fotbal pe bani'" [Ilie Balaci, coach and former footballer: "At 10 I was playing football for money"]. Adevărul (in Romanian). Retrieved 24 October 2017.
  25. ^ Eugen Trică, sprijinul Lorenei, la înmormântarea lui Ilie Balaci. Cei doi au divorţat de trei ani!,, 23 October 2018
  26. ^ "Liana, fata cea mica a lui Ilie Balaci, duce mai departe traditia sportiva a familiei!" [Liana, the little girl of Ilie Balaci, carries on the sporting tradition of the family!] (in Romanian). Retrieved 24 October 2017.
  27. ^ "Zi neagră în Bănie: Ilie Balaci a decedat!" [Black day in Bănie: Ilie Balaci passed away]. Gazeta de Sud (in Romanian). Retrieved 21 October 2018.
  28. ^ "Sute de oameni au venit să-i aducă un ultim omagiu lui Ilie Balaci, înainte de înmormântare". Digi Sport (in Romanian). 22 October 2018. Retrieved 22 October 2018.

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