Constanta (Romania), Luceafarul Bucharest (Romania), Sportul
Studentesc (Romania), Steaua Bucharest (Romania), Real Madrid (Spain),
Brescia (Italy), FC Barcelona (Spain), Galatasaray (Turkey)
Gheorghe Hagi (born February 5, 1965 in Sacele,
Constanta County) is a Romanian football player who played for
the Romanian national team in three World Cups. Nicknamed "The
Maradona of the Carpathians", he is a hero in his homeland as
well as in Turkey. He has won his country's Player of the Year
award a record six times, and was recently named Romania's
player of the century. Most notably, he was named the best
player of the 1990s by FIFA.
During the 1994 World Cup, Hagi made highlights by scoring vital
goals for Romania, including a 35 meter lob against Colombia.
Having played for Farul Constanta (1979/1980 and 1982/83),
Luceafarul Bucharest (1980/1982), Sportul Studentesc
(1983/1986), Steaua Bucharest (1986/1990), Real Madrid
(1990/1992), Brescia (1992/1994) and FC Barcelona (1994/1996),
Hagi then joined Galatasaray, the Turkish club team that
captured the UEFA Cup title in 2000. Prior to his third
retirement in 2001, he won 125 international caps, scoring 35
Hagi made his debut for the national side at the age of 18 in
1983. Since then he has been, literally, the cause of the rise
of Romanian soccer in the 1990s. His playing style
revolutionized the Romanian game - his speed and creativity made
those famous counter-attacks possible. At 5'8" tall, wearing
size five boots, Hagi is one of the more diminutive players on
the field, but in terms of his impact on the game, and the
status of Romanian soccer, he is larger than life. By bringing
so much respect to Romanian soccer, Hagi opened up opportunities
for future players, as clubs from all over Europe come to scout
talent in Romania.
Hagi has since returned to football as a coach. He became the
head coach of the Romanian national team in 2001, although he
only lasted six months as the team failed to qualify for the
2002 World Cup. He then took over as coach of Turkish first
division side Bursaspor but left that club after a disappointing
start to the season.
After a 18 month hiatus spent running a coastal Black Sea hotel
and appearing in television commercials, he then returned to
club management at the helm of the club at which he won his
first European trophy, Galatasaray. He resigned from this
position, on May 30, 2005, at the end of his first season in the
role. For many Galatasaray fans, a third place finish in the
League (and therefore missing out on a prestigious berth in the
2005/2006 UEFA Champions League competition) was highly
disappointing, despite the club's success in the Turkish Cup.
In November 2005, Gheorghe Hagi took over as manager at FCU
Politehnica Timisoara, signing a contract until 2008.
Hagi is ethnically Aromanian. In March 2004, he was named among
the top 125 living footballers by Pelé. Hagi is Adrian Mutu and
Alexandra Mutu's godfather.