Gheorghe "Gică" Hagi (Romanian pronunciation: [ˈɡe̯orɡe ˈhad͡ʒʲ] (listen); born 5 February 1965) is a Romanian football manager and former professional player, who played as an attacking midfielder. He is currently the owner of Romanian club Viitorul Constanța. Hagi was considered one of the best players in the world during the 1980s and '90s, and is regarded by many as the greatest Romanian footballer of all time. Fans of Turkish club Galatasaray, with whom Hagi ended his career, called him "Comandante" ("The Commander"), while he was known as "Regele" ("The King") to Romanian supporters. Nicknamed "The Maradona of the Carpathians", he was a creative advanced playmaker renowned for his dribbling, technique, vision, passing and shooting.
Hagi in 2014
|Full name||Gheorghe Hagi|
|Date of birth||5 February 1965|
|Place of birth||Săcele, Romania|
|Height||1.74 m (5 ft 9 in)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
After starting his playing career in Romania, with Farul Constanța, and subsequently featuring for Sportul Studențesc and Steaua București, he later also had spells in Spain with Real Madrid and FC Barcelona, Italy with Brescia, and Turkey, with Galatasaray; as such, Hagi is one of the few footballers to have played for both Spanish rival clubs Real Madrid and Barcelona. Throughout his club career, he won numerous titles while playing in four different countries: he won three Romanian League titles, two Cupa României titles, and the European Super Cup with Steaua București – also reaching the final of the 1988–89 European Cup –, a Supercopa de España title with Real Madrid, the Anglo-Italian Cup with Brescia, another Supercopa de España title with Barcelona, and four Süper Lig titles, two Turkish Cups, two Turkish Super Cups, the UEFA Cup, and the UEFA Super Cup with Galatasaray.
At international level, Hagi played for the Romanian national team in three FIFA World Cups, in 1990, 1994 (where he was named in the World Cup All-Star Team after helping his nation to the quarter-finals of the tournament) and 1998; as well as in three UEFA European Championships, in 1984, 1996 and 2000. He won a total of 124 caps for Romania between 1983 and 2000, making him the second-most capped Romanian player of all time, behind only Dorinel Munteanu; he is also the joint all-time leading goalscorer of the Romanian national side (alongside Adrian Mutu) with 35 goals.
Hagi is considered a hero both in his homeland and in Turkey. He was named Romanian Footballer of the Year a record seven times, and is regarded as one of the best football players of his generation. Hagi was nominated six times for the Ballon d'Or, his best performance being a 4th place in 1994. In November 2003, to celebrate UEFA's Jubilee, Hagi was selected as the Golden Player of Romania by the Romanian Football Federation as their most outstanding player of the past 50 years. In 2004, he was named by Pelé as one of the 125 Greatest Living Footballers at a FIFA Awards Ceremony. In 1999, he was ranked at number 25 in World Soccer Magazine's list of the 100 greatest players of the 20th century.
Following his retirement in 2001, Hagi pursued a managerial career, coaching the Romanian national team, as well as clubs in both Romania and Turkey, namely Bursaspor, Galatasaray, Politehnica Timișoara, FCSB, and Viitorul Constanța. In 2009, he founded Romanian club Viitorul Constanța, which he has coached between 2014 and 2020. Hagi also established the Gheorghe Hagi Football Academy, one of the largest football academies in Southeastern Europe.
Hagi started his career playing for the youth teams of Farul Constanța in the 1970s, before being selected by the Romanian Football Federation to join the squad of Luceafărul București in 1980, where he remained for two years. In 1982, he returned to Constanța, but one year later, aged 18, he was prepared to make the step up to play for a top team. He was originally directed to Universitatea Craiova, but chose Sportul Studențesc of Bucharest instead.
In late 1986, Hagi transferred to Steaua București as the team prepared for the European Super Cup final against Dynamo Kyiv. The original contract was for a one-game loan only, the final. However, after winning the trophy, in which Hagi scored the only goal of the match from a free kick, Steaua did not want to release him back to Sportul Studențesc and retained him. During his Steaua years (1987–1990), Hagi played 97 Liga I games, scoring 76 goals, and netted 98 goals in total in 107 appearances for the club across all competitions. With the club, he reached the European Cup semi-final in 1988, and the final in the following year, while Hagi finished as one of the competition's top scorers in the former edition of the tournament. Hagi also won three consecutive league and Cup doubles with Steaua between 1987 and 1989. His strong performances had him linked with Arrigo Sacchi's Milan, fellow Serie A club Juventus, and German side Bayern Munich, but Nicolae Ceaușescu's communist government rejected any offer.
After impressing at the 1990 FIFA World Cup, Hagi was signed by Spanish club Real Madrid on 27 June that same year; the La Liga side paid $3.5 million to Steaua București in order to acquire him. Hagi played two seasons with Real Madrid, which were largely unsuccessful, scoring 20 goals in 84 games, and only winning the Supercopa de España; some of his most memorable performances for the club included a hat-trick in a 5–0 home win over Athletic Bilbao at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, on match-day 22 of the 1991–92 season, and a 40-yard lob against Osasuna during the same campaign. He was subsequently sold to Italian side Brescia for 8 billion lira in 1992.
Hagi began the 1992–93 season with Brescia in Serie A, but after his first season, the club was relegated to Serie B. The following season, Hagi helped the club win the Anglo-Italian Cup, with Brescia defeating Notts County 1–0 in the final at Wembley, and also helped the team finish third in Serie B and earn promotion back to Serie A. After performing memorably during the 1994 World Cup, Hagi returned to Spain, and was signed by defending La Liga champions Barcelona for £2 million, where he immediately won his second Supercopa de España title; however, he later struggled to gain playing time at the club under manager Johan Cruyff.
After two years at Barça, Hagi signed for Turkish club Galatasaray in 1996, at the age of 31. He had been the subject of a competing transfer offer from São Paulo FC. Although in the twilight of his career, at Galatasaray, he was extremely successful, and became highly popular among the Turkish supporters, due to his excellent performances for the club. Hagi was an important member of the Galatasaray team that went on to win four consecutive league titles between 1996 and 2000. In 2000, at age 35, Hagi had one of the best seasons of his career, winning every possible major title with Galatasaray that season. Most significantly, Hagi captained the club to win the 1999–2000 UEFA Cup after defeating Arsenal on penalties in the final, following a 0–0 draw; during the match, Hagi was sent off in extra-time for punching Arsenal captain Tony Adams. Consequently, Galatasaray became the first Turkish club to win a UEFA club competition title. The team's UEFA Cup triumph was immediately followed by the UEFA Super Cup title, with a historic 2–1 win against Hagi's former club Real Madrid in extra-time. The mass hysteria caused by these wins in Istanbul raised Hagi's popularity with the fans even further, and prompted former France international Luis Fernández to say, "Hagi is like wine, the older it gets, the better it is."
When he retired in 2001, Hagi was one of the most popular players in both Turkey and Romania. Hagi drew praise from the Galatasaray supporters for his performances during his time with the club, who adopted the chant "I Love You Hagi" in his honour. While coaching Galatasaray in 2004, he briefly came out of retirement to play in the testimonial game for his former teammate Suat Kaya against Turkey XI. Hagi played the first half wearing his iconic shirt number 10 and helped Galatasaray win 2–1.
Hagi made his debut for the Romania national team in 1983, against Norway, in Oslo, at the age of 18. He scored his first international goal against Northern Ireland in 1984. The following year, he was made captain for the first time, in a World Cup qualifier against the same opponent.
Although Romania failed to qualify for the 1986 World Cup, Hagi later took part at the 1990 World Cup, where he helped the team reach the round of 16, before Republic of Ireland ended their run, after winning the resulting penalty shoot-out following a 0–0 draw, with Hagi netting Romania's first spot kick. Four years later, he led the Romanian team to its best ever international performance at the 1994 World Cup, as they reached the quarter-finals, only to lose to Sweden in a penalty shoot-out once again. Hagi scored three times in the tournament, including a memorable goal in their 3–2 surprise defeat of South American powerhouse and previous runners-up Argentina. In the first of Romania's group stage matches, a 3–1 win against Colombia, Hagi provided two assists and scored one of the most memorable goals of the tournament, curling in a 40-yard lob over Colombian goalkeeper Óscar Córdoba who was caught out of position; the goal was later voted the fifth greatest World Cup goal in a FIFAworldcup.com poll. Hagi was named in the Team of the Tournament for his performances.
Four years later, he captained Romania at the 1998 World Cup; Hagi initially communicated that France '98 would be his final tournament. Romania topped their group, which featured England, Colombia, and Tunisia, and reached the round of 16, before being eliminated by Croatia. After the tournament, Hagi retired from the national team, only to change his mind after a few months and participate in UEFA Euro 2000, during which he was sent off in the 2–0 quarter-final loss against eventual runners-up Italy; this was his final international appearance.
Hagi retired from professional football in 2001, at the age of 36; that year, he was given a send-off in a testimonial game on 24 April, called "Gala Hagi," featuring a team of Romanian All-Stars against a team of international All-Stars. At the time of his retirement, his 124 caps for his country were a national record, which has since been surpassed by Dorinel Munteanu. He currently still holds the record of most goals scored for the Romanian national team, alongside Adrian Mutu, with 35.
Career as coach
Romania national team
In 2001, Hagi was named the manager of the Romania national team, replacing Ladislau Bölöni, who left the squad to coach Sporting Clube de Portugal. After failing to qualify the team for the World Cup, however, Hagi was sacked. His only notable achievement during the six months as Romania's manager was the win in Budapest against Hungary.
In 2003, Hagi took over as coach of Turkish Süper Lig side Bursaspor, but left the club after a disappointing start to the season.
Hagi then became manager of Galatasaray in 2004, leading the team to the Turkish Cup in 2005 final with 5–1 as a score against fierce rivals Fenerbahçe. His contract, however, was not renewed since his team was not able to win 2004–05 Süper Lig title over Fenerbahçe during the centennial of the club.
Steaua București sought to hire Hagi in the summer of 2005, but Hagi's requested wage could not be met by the Romanian champions, and he became manager of Politehnica Timișoara instead. However, after a string of poor results and disagreements with management, he left the club after a few months. Constanța's main stadium used to bear his name, but the name was changed after Hagi signed with Politehnica Timișoara.
From June to September 2007, Hagi coached Steaua București, had a mediocre start in the internal championship mainly due to the large number of unavailable injured players, and managed to qualify the team for the second time in line to the UEFA Champions League group stages, passing two qualifying rounds. He resigned due to a long series of conflicts with club owner Gigi Becali, which also happens to be his godson. The main reason for resigning was the owner's policy of imposing players, making the team's strategy and threats. Hagi's resigned mere hours after Steaua's first Champions League match away against Slavia Prague, a 2–1 loss.
After Frank Rijkaard was sacked as coach, Hagi signed a one and a half-year contract with Galatasaray on 21 October 2010. His official presentation was held on 22 October. His former teammate from Galatasaray Tugay Kerimoğlu assisted him in Istanbul, but he was sacked on 22 March 2011 after a series of poor results in the Süper Lig.
In September 2014, Hagi appointed himself manager of Viitorul Constanța, in addition to being the owner and chairman of the club. Successfully avoiding relegation in his first season, Viitorul went on to be the season's wonder in the 2015–16 season, finishing the first half of the regular season on 3rd place, which led Hagi to be named Romania Coach of the Year. Eventually, Viitorul finished the regular season on 4th place, earning their first play-off qualification. Viitorul finished the play-off on 5th place, but qualified for the UEFA Europa League third qualifying round due to Dinamo București's insolvency. In their first European match, Viitorul were defeated 0–5 by Gent at the Ghelamco Arena, and were eliminated after a 0–0 home draw.
Viitorul won their maiden league title, being 2016–17 Liga I champions after a 1–0 home victory over CFR Cluj; they finished the play-off with 44 points, same as FCSB, but on a better head-to-head record after a 3–1 home victory over FCSB. As a result, Hagi won his second Romania Coach of the Year award.
Style of play
A talented left-footed attacking midfielder, Hagi's playing style was frequently compared with Diego Maradona's throughout his career, due to his technical ability as well as his temperamental character and leadership; as a youth, he was mainly inspired by compatriots Anghel Iordănescu and Ion Dumitru. A quick, highly creative, and mobile advanced playmaker, Hagi was also tactically versatile, and capable of playing in several midfield and offensive positions on either wing or through the middle, due to his ability with both feet, despite being naturally left-footed, although he had a preference for using his stronger foot; his preferred position was in a free role as a classic number 10, but he was also used as a second striker on occasion. Hagi was renowned in particular for his first touch and speed on the ball, as well as his timing, interpretation of space, bursts of acceleration, and dribbling skills, which enabled him to get past defenders; he was also highly regarded for his vision and precise passing, although he was capable of both scoring and assisting goals, and was also an accurate finisher and set-piece taker, who had a penchant for scoring goals from powerful, bending long range strikes. Despite his small stature and slender build, Hagi possessed significant upper body strength, which, along with his control, aided him in protecting the ball from opponents, and allowed him to create space for himself or his teammates. Despite his skill and his reputation as one of the greatest number 10s of his generation, his career was marked by inconsistency at times, and he was also considered to be a controversial player, due to his rebellious and arrogant attitude, as well as his low work-rate, aggression, unsportsmanlike behaviour, and lack of discipline, which led him to have several disagreements and confrontations with his managers, opponents, and officials.
Gheorghe Hagi was born to Chirata Hagi, his mother, and Iancu Hagi, his father. He is of Aromanian descent. According to him, "ambition is the main quality of the Aromanians". Hagi is currently married to Marilena Hagi, with whom he had two children, Ianis and Kira.
|FC Constanța||1982–83||Divizia A||18||7||–||–||18||7|
|Sportul Studențesc||1983–84||Divizia A||31||2||2||0||–||33||2|
|Steaua București||1986–87||Divizia A||14||10||1||1||–||15||11|
|Real Madrid||1990–91||La Liga||29||4||0||0||4||0||1||0||34||4|
- Scores and results list Romania's goal tally first, score column indicates score after each Hagi goal.
|1||12 September 1984||Windsor Park, Belfast, Northern Ireland||Northern Ireland||1–1||2–3||FIFA World Cup 1986 Qualifying|
|2||30 January 1985||Estádio José Alvalade, Lisbon, Portugal||Portugal||3–2||3–2||Friendly|
|3||3 April 1985||Stadionul Central, Craiova, Romania||Turkey||1–0||3–0||FIFA World Cup 1986 Qualifying|
|4||6 June 1985||Helsinki Olympic Stadium, Helsinki, Finland||Finland||1–0||1–1||FIFA World Cup 1986 Qualifying|
|5||28 August 1985||Stadionul 1 Mai, Timișoara, Romania||Finland||1–0||2–0||FIFA World Cup 1986 Qualifying|
|6||23 April 1986||Stadionul 1 Mai, Timișoara, Romania||Soviet Union||1–0||2–1||Friendly|
|7||20 August 1986||Ullevaal Stadion, Oslo, Norway||Norway||2–0||2–2||Friendly|
|8||10 September 1986||Stadionul Ghencea, Bucharest, Romania||Austria||4–0||4–1||UEFA Euro 1988 Qualifying|
|9||11 March 1987||Karaiskakis Stadium, Piraeus, Greece||Greece||1–1||1–1||Friendly|
|10||25 March 1987||Stadionul Ghencea, Bucharest, Romania||Albania||3–1||5–1||UEFA Euro 1988 Qualifying|
|11||20 September 1988||Stadionul 1 Mai, Constanța, Romania||Albania||2–0||3–0||Friendly|
|12||2 November 1988||Stadionul Ghencea, Bucharest, Romania||Greece||2–0||3–0||FIFA World Cup 1990 Qualifying|
|13||3 August 1990||Stadion Allmend, Lucerne, Switzerland||Switzerland||1–0||1–2||Friendly|
|14||25 April 1990||Kiryat Eliezer Stadium, Haifa, Israel||Israel||2–0||4–1||Friendly|
|15||27 March 1991||Stadio Olimpico, Serravalle, San Marino||San Marino||1–0||3–1||UEFA Euro 1992 Qualifying|
|16||16 October 1991||Stadionul Ghencea, Bucharest, Romania||Scotland||1–0||1–0||UEFA Euro 1992 Qualifying|
|17||6 May 1992||Stadionul Ghencea, Bucharest, Romania||Faroe Islands||2–0||7–0||FIFA World Cup 1994 Qualifying|
|18||20 May 1992||Stadionul Ghencea, Bucharest, Romania||Wales||1–0||5–1||FIFA World Cup 1994 Qualifying|
|19||20 May 1992||Stadionul Ghencea, Bucharest, Romania||Wales||5–0||5–1||FIFA World Cup 1994 Qualifying|
|20||29 November 1992||Neo GSZ Stadium, Larnaca, Cyprus||Cyprus||3–1||4–1||FIFA World Cup 1994 Qualifying|
|21||17 November 1993||Cardiff Arms Park, Cardiff, Wales||Wales||1–0||2–1||FIFA World Cup 1994 Qualifying|
|22||14 June 1994||Trabuco Hills Stadium, Mission Viejo, United States||Sweden||1–1||1–1||Friendly|
|23||18 June 1994||Rose Bowl, Pasadena, United States||Colombia||2–0||3–1||World Cup 1994 Group A|
|24||22 June 1994||Pontiac Silverdome, Pontiac, United States||Switzerland||1–1||1–4||World Cup 1994 Group A|
|25||3 July 1994||Rose Bowl, Pasadena, United States||Argentina||3–1||3–2||World Cup 1994 Round of 16|
|26||12 November 1994||Stadionul Ghencea, Bucharest, Romania||Slovakia||2–0||3–2||UEFA Euro 1996 Qualifying|
|27||15 October 1995||Všešportový areál, Košice, Slovakia||Slovakia||1–0||2–0||UEFA Euro 1996 Qualifying|
|28||9 October 1996||Laugardalsvöllur, Reykjavík, Iceland||Iceland||2–0||4–0||World Cup 1998 Qualifying|
|29||29 March 1997||Stadionul Ghencea, Bucharest, Romania||Liechtenstein||4–0||8–0||World Cup 1998 Qualifying|
|30||10 September 1997||Stadionul Ghencea, Bucharest, Romania||Iceland||1–0||4–0||World Cup 1998 Qualifying|
|31||10 September 1997||Stadionul Ghencea, Bucharest, Romania||Iceland||4–0||4–0||World Cup 1998 Qualifying|
|32||11 October 1997||Lansdowne Road, Dublin, Ireland||Republic of Ireland||1–0||1–1||World Cup 1998 Qualifying|
|33||3 June 1998||Stadionul Ghencea, Bucharest, Romania||Paraguay||3–2||3–2||Friendly|
|34||4 September 1999||Tehelné pole, Bratislava, Slovakia||Slovakia||2–1||5–1||UEFA Euro 2000 Qualifying|
|35||8 September 1999||Stadionul Ghencea, Bucharest, Romania||Portugal||1–0||1–1||UEFA Euro 2000 Qualifying|
- As of 22 November 2020
|Romania||1 September 2001||27 November 2001||4||1||2||1||25.00|
|Bursaspor||1 July 2003||15 November 2003||12||2||4||6||16.67|
|Galatasaray||22 March 2004||28 May 2005||48||34||5||9||70.83|
|Politehnica Timișoara||7 November 2005||21 May 2006||17||5||4||8||29.41|
|Steaua București||1 July 2007||20 September 2007||11||6||3||2||54.55|
|Galatasaray||21 October 2010||24 March 2011||24||8||6||10||33.33|
|Viitorul Constanța||15 September 2014||1 August 2020||244||112||53||79||45.90|
- The 100 Greatest Players of the 20th Century
- List of footballers with 100 or more caps
- 125 appearances according to some sources, although, as of 2007, the FRF no longer recognises Romania's unofficial 3–1 friendly away win against the Ecuador U23 side on 22 January 1984
- Includes UEFA Champions League, UEFA Cup, UEFA Cup Winners' Cup and UEFA Super Cup (1986, 2000)
- Appearance(s) in Supercopa
- Appearances in Presidential Cup
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- Romeo Ionescu; Razvan Toma; Simon Preston; Roberto Di Maggio (25 June 2015). "Romania – List of Topscorers". RSSSF. Retrieved 9 February 2016.
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- "Hagi e antrenorul anului 2017 în ancheta Gazetei! Pentru că ne înveți să nu cedăm în meserie, mulțumim, Gică! » Iată și ceilalți 3 laureați". Gazeta Sporturilor (in Romanian). 20 December 2017. Retrieved 20 December 2017.
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