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Gheorghe Hagi reviving Romanian football with youth developement

Photo: Getty Images
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Hagi’s project created to save Romanian football.

Everything started in 2009, when Hagi became disappointed with working for different club owners. He has always loved to be free on the pitch as a player, and that was almost impossible during his coaching career. After short periods with the Romania national team, Bursaspor, Galatasaray and  Steaua Bucharest, he decided to establish his own academy.

He wanted to build an academy similar to those he saw at Real Madrid and Barcelona. Investing his own money, about €10 million, he built the academy’s facilities on a ground that used to be a corn field, near his home town of Constanta. At the same time, he created Viitorul Constanta, that started playing in the third division in 2009. The goal was to promote academy players to the first team and then making profit by selling them to bigger clubs.

Photo: Sport.ro

In the meantime, the academy flourished. A quality scouting network was used to find the best footballing talents around the country. State-of-the-art training and great living facilities make it easy for kids and their parents to decide on choosing Viitorul. Hagi’s academy has players called to Romania’s national teams of all ages. One of them, defender Cristian Manea, became the youngest player to ever represent Romania at senior level at the tender age of 16 years and 10 months.

During their first three seasons in the first division, Viitorul finished in the second part of the table. This year, Hagi guided Viitorul to the top of the table with eight games remaining. They might be ready to win the title, the first of many trophies to come. Even more importantly, the academy looks certain to be the core of Romania’s national team for years to come.

Romanian football

Viitorul means “future” in Romanian, and the young players are about to become just that. In fact, the future is becoming more and more the present.