There’s something about flamboyant playmakers which makes them one of the undying joys of football. Their arrogance, showmanship and petulance all conspire to make these unique beings the most eye catching and exciting talents to take to the field – even with their own obvious faults and weaknesses.
Gheorghe Hagi is one such player who instantly sparks a look of knowing recognition in the eye of football fans across the globe. His talent was so supreme that it saw him ply his trade at, an all conquering, Steaua Bucharesti, Real Madrid and Galatasaray – while succeeding in each shirt he stepped out onto the pitch wearing.
His story is an equally fascinating one, and a tale that could be told for some time, however it is the manner in which Hagi found himself crossing the Bucharesti divide from Sportul Studenţesc to Steaua in the late 1980′s that is perhaps the most strangely interesting one to tell.
Hagi’s time with Sportul Studenţesc, a club previously regarded as minnows in a footballing city as vast as Bucharesti, was one of uncompromising success. His ability, along with that of Marcel Coraș, inspired the club to unprecedented league finishes, culminating in a league runners’ up medal in the 1985/86 season. Hagi was quite obviously on the road to stardom, as his performances had attested to, and it was only a natural progression that Steaua would be interested in acquiring his services.
It wasn’t until 1987 that Hagi finally donned the famous red and blue of Steaua however in a turn of events that many would simply find laughable today.
Sportul Studenţesc agreed to permit Hagi to sign a contract with Steaua on the basis that it was for a single game – the European Super Cup final, against Dynamo Kyiv. So Hagi travelled with his new, temporary team mates to Monaco’s Stade Louis II Stadium in pursuit of his first taste of silverware, domestically or continentally.
Hagi’s influence upon proceedings was indisputable as his goal – a heavily deflected free kick – on the stroke of half time placed Steaua in a strong position heading into the break. The second half showed Steaua at their resilient best as they managed to nullify the Ukrainian threats, including an ageing Oleh Blokhin, to hold onto their narrow lead and lift the Super Cup.
The match made Steaua realise that they had unearthed a player who they simply could not live without and so a deal was agreed for Hagi to stay at the club on a permanent basis. The rest, as they say, is history as Hagi went on to become one of Romanian football’s finest exports while Steaua continued their unparalleled domestic success and Sportul Studenţesc sank back to their previous obscurity.
As suggested by @footballglobe.
Words by Domm Norris.