I have reached a difficult time of in my life, one that I’ve always thought of with fear, but cannot be delayed anymore. My playing career under Romania’s flag is over. My age, the injuries, the surgical interventions that I’ve gone through in recent years keep me from playing on several fronts. With this decision, one of the most important periods of my life comes to an end and now, when I look back, I feel pride, honor and gratitude.
I was, I still am and will always be one of Romania’s most passionate fans and it was my honor to captain this team. For 12 years I’ve been a part of this family, I had the privilege to score goals under Romania’s colors, to play football with the sound of our national anthem in my ears and to run until my energy tank dries out for the pride of my fellow Romanians. I did it with all my heart, as a sportsman and Romanian.
It is hard for me to stop this journey, but I know that I won’t cease to be a Romanian, to support all the Romanian sportsmen and footballers and to be the biggest fan of the Romanian national team. My heart beats for the country and for my family and this will never change, no matter my age or my health.
I would like to thank with all my heart to all those who’ve supported me in my international career, coaches, team-mates, members of the Federation, fans, members of my family, to my wife and our two daughters, for these 12 years that have changed my life.
Go Romania! Let’s be proud that we’re Romanians!
Signed: Cristi Chivu, Romanian and football player
Goalkeepers: Bogdan Lobont (AS Rome), Costel Pantilimon (FC Timisoara), Mircea Bornescu (Rapid)
Defenders: Ovidiu Dananae (Universitatea Craiova), Cristian Panin (CFR Cluj), Gabriel Tamas (WBA), Vasile Maftei, George Galamaz (Unirea Urziceni), Razvan Rat (Shakhtar Donetsk), Mihai Nesu (FC Utrecht)
Midfielders: Razvan Cocis (Al Nasr), Banel Nicolita, Mihai Radut, Cristian Tanase (Steaua), Mirel Radoi (Al-Hilal), George Florescu (Alania), Ciprian Deac, Gabriel Muresan (CFR Cluj)
Forwards: Daniel Niculae (AS Monaco), Bogdan Stancu (Steaua), Ciprian Marica (VFB Stuttgart), Marius Bilasco (Unirea Urziceni)
Out of form and of Timisoara’s first eleven, Pantilimon will travel with the squad, but shouldn’t play. I’m surprised to see Maftei still in the team, as he’s no longer played at right back in Urziceni and Lucescu seems to have given up the idea of keep playing him on that position, since he called Dananae and Panin. Nesu’s once again back-up for the left back role, but probably just because Lazio’s Radu Stefan was unavailable. Based on form, Galamaz should be among the starters, as he’s been playing superbly, while Nicolita’s return is a nice rewards for the winger’s excellent attitude and solid start of season. Deac is hugely over-rated though and should have stayed home for this one, at least, while in attack Bilasco must keep his place among the starters, after his last solid display in the national team.
Based on the current selection, the first eleven should look like this: Bornescu – Dananae, Tamas, Galamaz, Rat – Nicolita, Radoi, Radut (Cocis), Tanase – Bilasco, D. Niculae. But I’m pretty sure we’ll start with Lobont in goal, Florescu alongside Radoi and Marica upfront…
Group D: France, Romania, Bosnia Herzegovina, Belarus, Albania, Luxembourg.
Basically, we’re fighting with Bosnia for the second spot and those who think that this national team can win against the big boys should pray that the point(s) won against France will be enough to compensate those we’ll probably waste against Albania or Belarus…
Focusing on the double against Bosnia, I think that Bosnia has the edge, as football tends to favor those who dare to attack, while Romania has been shaping up as a very organized and defensive team under Razvan Lucescu. And I don’t blame the talented coach, in fact he should be appreciated for acknowledging our new position in football and trying to re-inject the underdog’s mentality, the only one that paid dividends (remember the counter-attacking skills of Italy ’90 and USA ’94!) for a team that, in recent years, lacked the right approach.
Lucescu’s job is to keep the mentality and team spirit that managed to keep France at bay during the last campaign, but find the right approach for the matches Romania will have to win. Oh, and, yes, the right players…
Right now, our NT doesn’t look promising. The only positions well covered are goalkeeper (Coman and Lobont), central defenders (Chivu, Radoi, Tamas, Goian). We also count on Rat at left back, on the likes of Ghioane, Apostol and Tanase in midfield, and on Marica upfront. And I’d take out Apostol and even Marica, although he looks in better shape this year, but, in order to do that, other players must step in and this is Lucescu’s challenge: finding the new wave of players until September and the guts he lacked in the previous campaign, when he should have had a different approach, as the second spot was already lost, when he took over from Victor Piturca. But he went from handing a debut to the promising Mihai Roman (24) on the right wing to recalling veteran Bogdan Mara (32), from changing the team’s atitude to regularly calling the very talented, but also very lazy and inconsistent Adrian Cristea.
So, who will play at right back, can we find someone better than Nicolita on the right wing (Szekely, Roman), can we rely on the fragile midfield pair Ghioane-Apostol in the middle of the park, can we still count on Tanase on the left wing, if Steaua will play him as a mezzapunta, who’s the centre forward that should team-up with Marica, upfront? These are the questions…