INTERVIEWS & ARTICLES
"The Story of Hagi's Rise" , by supersport.com.tr click to view in Turkish
"Normal Hagi Normal", by Ayse Arman, Hurriyet, April 1999 click to view in Turkish
"It's Time to Say Goodbye!", by Milliyet, January 2001, Las Palmas
Interview by Dominique Antognoni , World Soccer, 2001
About his goal against Milan and Galatasaray, 2001
"Saint Gheorghe will slay the English", by Paul Doyle, 16 May 2000
"Praise from the Master to the Novice" , by Ýlhan Söyler, 7 May 1999 click to view in Turkish
Pro Sport "HAGI SPECIAL" click to view in Turkish
"Everyone Is Watching Us" , Hurriyet, 19 July 1999 click to view in Turkish
"Hagi song is in the Limelight", Hurriyet , 4 June 1999 click to view in Turkish
"Champions League Magazine Interview" , 2001 click to view in Turkish
"Amazing Rise of Romanian Player Gheorghe Hagi" , Hurriyet , Jan 2001 click to view in Turkish 1 2
THE STORY OF HAGI'S RISE
Year 1982...The place is Constanta, one of the important cities of Romania...A young player in Farul Constanta, which tries to hang on in division 1, received the attraction of Romania's sportsman.The eight goals he scored in 18 games let him find himself playing in a more powerful team in the next season.
The young star, Gheorghe Hagi's next team was Sportul Bucuresti for the season 1983-1984...Hagi, who was subjected to play deffensive only scored 2 goals in his first season in this team.Although it took one year for the coach to discover the genius of Hagi, he scored 51 goals in the other 2 seasons when he played offensive, at the back of the forward.He made his team fourth, third and second respectively...Romanian football first witnessed the beatuy of his free-kicks, in this team.And those free-kicks, which we also get used to watch in Galatasaray, made him the top scorer in Romania in the season 1985-1986...
Hagi's unbelievable talent also took the attention of Steaua Bucuresti which was preparing to build a team to scare Europe with the help of the regime in Romania...And Hagi joined Steaua Bucuresti which other Romanian starts also play, in the season 1986-87.
Hagi who takes atention with his leadership qualities, impressed his team-mates in a short while..He presented 4 Romanian titles, 4 Romanian Cup and a Super Cup to his team...
Especialy his beautiful play in World Cup and its eliminations made him an international star.And it didn't took so long for such a star to step on Santiago Barnebau Stadium which he can show his talent further...Real Madrid fans expected Hagi to repeat the magic he did in Steaua Bucuresti and the Romanian Nationa Team but it didn't happen so...
The tough kicks and the disagreements among the team kept Hagi away from a championship joy in Spanish League.
1992-93..The next team was Brescia.. He couldn't serve as he desired to a team which received him with open arms after his failure in Real Madrid...Brescia fall to Serie B after being sixteenth...The only season in Italian Serie B was a fight of honour for both Brescia and Hagi...And the team was back on Serie A with a good cooperation...
Hagi who couldn't fulfill the expectations in Barnebau this time decided to try in Nou Camp..But once again he understood how though Spanish League is for a star... The serþous injury he had let him only play for 5 games...
However he still proved that his talent didn't die by scoring goal in this 5 matches.A clever and hardworking coach noticed Hagi's still alive talent from another point of old European continent...A man who knows that stars will always keep shining and even the stars who died can scatter a light which can be seen from the whole planet by a supernova explosion.He gave Hagi's name to the managers who expect him to say a name to transfer and added "While creating the most powerful Turkish team Hagi will be the skeleton which we will place the others around.He will be the brain, the basis of the new structure of Galatasaray...."
Managers who agreed Fatih Terim's this decision agreed with Barcelona and make the team gain Hagi...People who made comments like "Will he play with the help of a stick? Why do you transfer a player whose football career has ended?" understood how wrong they were just at the first match he played...
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One of the best players ever came on earth: Gheorghe HAGI…In other words, Gica.34 years old. His incredible talent is granted by everyone, of course not by me who is not interested in football. They watch the game, know the game, I instead listen to his story. Participated World Cup several times, have been the captain of National Team, played in teams like Real Madrid, Steau Bucharest, Barcelona…For last 3 years he has been playing in Galatasaray. A special thing that mostly affected me about him -although I do not get any pleasure from football- is that: The running waters cease running when the name Hagi is spelled. Regardless of their favourite team, everyone respect him since he plays football just as performing an art. And despite his impressive skills on the field, he never became spoilt and succeeded in staying as a gentleman.
NORMAL HAGI NORMAL
Ayse ARMAN: Women fans increase…
HAGI: Very good. But NORMAL because football is something entertaining. Although football is something that takes place in the field, the increase in women fans is important for players. Football is not a game which is "macho". I become happy when I see women in the stadium, better than seeing men only.
Do your teammates listen to you in the field?
Yes, I am just like an elder brother. But it is
It has been said that sometimes you affect the referees.
Are you a gentleman as a player?
I can do everything for my team to win.
Can you tell names of 3 players better than you?
It's hard to tell…
Ok just one…
For me, talent means Maradona.
You will retire next year.
Are you tired?
You are getting older…
That's not the point, I am just not as young as before.
What about Romanians?
They love to live well. They love to enjoy. Hardworking, open-minded…They can speak lots of languages.
How many languages do you speak?
English, Spanish, Italian, a bit Turkish and of course my own language.
Why do Romanians have good players? Any formula?
Romanian football is based on talent, not power. For example powerful players come out from Italy.
In other words, not talented…
I didn't mean that but Turkish football is mainly based on working rather than talent.
Why do you have talent, others don't?
It may be a characteristic of the nation.
Let's start from the beginning.
I was born in Scale, in a village close to Constanta.
Not much wealthy...
NORMAL.They were working in the village, dealing with the soil.
What were they sowing?
NORMAL things like other villagers.
Wheat, barley, cotton? What kind of?
Any sisters or brothers?
I have two sisters. They live in Constanta.When I was nine we moved to city from the village. It became good.
What kind of education?
I went to NORMAL schools. Then I studied economics at Bucharest University.
When did you decide to become a football player?
When I was 6 my mother gave me a ball as a gift.I used to play at the streets…Beginning from age ten I have never give up playing football.I think I borned for football.I love it very much…Its hard to tell…Even at that ages I began to train very seriously.
Than you were "hardworking" ever since.
No, I was talented ever since…It's the reality.I borned with this talent.
It has been said that you are in the greatest 50 players of all times…
I don't know that much but I know that I am a good player.Its not up to me to evaluate how good I am.
What's that? Modesty?
Is football played by foot or brain?
The brain and whole body should work in coordination. Football is the one of the most difficult sports. Whole body should work. Its not easy. Your foot that hits the ball may be powerful but it is not enough.
Exactly when did football change your life?
When I was 17.
Can you explain a bit? It's hard to get a word from you…Like what happened, how, what about after that time…
Everyone began to know me. But it is NORMAL because I played in the Romanian National Team.Everything happened in 3 weeks…Very fast…After that I built a career upon this. And it began to come: Fame, success, and money.
Have these changes ever confused you?
No, NORMAL. They always write that "Hagi does this, Hagi does that…"It's a good thing.It was not a problem for me.I was doing my job.
Whats the difference between the Çavuºesku time and now?
Now there is money. A person can have a good life standard there especially if he is a good football player.
What about before Ceaucescu?
I am not a political person.I didn't care about those.I was living with football, and I still do.The country is not that important also.If the footbal played is good, I am everywhere.And my family is important.Just the two…
Did Ceaucescu used to love you?
How can I know? I used to know his son. I have never met with the father.
Do you feel sorry about that?
A bit.I didn't have any chance.
Why did you study economics?
To prepare myself to the future times of life. Because I was thinking to retire at the age 31.It didn't happen. When I was very young football was not that much professional. You are a player but in addition you want to have a diploma. It's not a problem now, not essential either.
What are your plans about the future now?
One more year in Galatasaray, then I will retire.
What you are going to do? Become a coach?
I want to...
Are you happier in Turkey compared to Italy or Spain?
I am happy everywhere.
Do you say "Till I became Hagi I had many struggles, dealt with many things." ? Did you have much difficulty?
In fact at the beginning it was a bit easy because talent permits someone to come to a place faster. But the point is that it is difficult to stay there. In other words, it was easy at the beginning and very difficult later. They follow you everytime. Once you play bad they begin to talk. But I am ambitious man. I work very hard to be number one. Sometimes I can, sometimes can't. That is also NORMAL.
Do you have any dreams, which didn't come true?
I played at the best teams of the world. There is no more "top". And I don't have any dreams to make me say "I wish…."
When did you get married?
I married two times. At my second year in Barcelona I made my first marriage. She was also Romanian.
All women in your life are Romanian?
It is easier to communicate. My current wife is Macedonian.
How long did it last?
Because she was a wrong woman to live.
Do you still have relations?
Once a thing is over, it is completely over for me.
What about your current marriage?
We have been married with Marilena for 4 years. We have two children, Kira and Ianis.Our marriage is a good one.
You don't show up in Papparazzis? Do you protect yourself?
I want my family to be away of such things.
I am married.
Everyone is…no difference for them….
NOT NORMAL! (*)
You are afraid of your wife…
No I love her. I am loyal to her. No other women except my wife.I married for that reason.I wanted to have a family.To share the life I live…A big house and kids…
Are you rich enough?
I have a good life. I don't think my children and even their children would have any difficulty.
What do you do with that money? Do you invest on real estate?
For your wife?
Whatever she wants.Everything...She is my wife and she has the right to demand and own everything. Isn't it NORMAL?
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IT'S TIME TO SAY GOODBYE
His words, successes…
Who knows how many camps Hagi made throughout his career? Who knows how many interviews he has been made? While we were waiting the time we are going to meet Hagi, we are thinking all these…While we are taking notes about the questions we will ask, he appears. Without waiting us to ask any questions, he begins to talk…
"I am not a machine"
" I feel good. We have started a new season and I am happy. But these will end one day. Hagi will go. I am not a machine. Even a machine stops one day. Hagi gave a lot to this team. He always wanted to win. He did his best. Lots of things have changed since I came. We won the UEFA cup, became champions in the Turkish League four times but Hagi is not the same Hagi as before. His hair got white…He gets tired in the last 20 minutes.
"I will be 37 soon."
"This is the last 5 months for me…My career as a player for 20 years is going to end. I am 36, and I will be 37 soon. There is only one person who played till 37 in Romania, Lucescu…We will be in equal positions. If I were transferred to another team instead of Galatasaray 5 years ago, could I be able to play this much? The only reason for me to play till 37 is being happy. If I were not happy, I would have stop playing football.
"I am not the hidden boss."
"When this season ends, I will first make a good holiday.I will have a good rest.Then I will be a coach because I can not be apart from football…If I get offered by Galatasaray for being the coach I will accept it with pleasure.I will be at the top as a coach also.I never accept peoples words like "Hagi is the hidden boss of Galatasaray."I am not young and I know this job but I never interfere to the coach's job because I will also be a coach in the future.
"My suggestions for Emre"
It completely depends on Emre to be a "Hagi" in the future. He is a good player but he is just at the beginning of his career...Emre should keep his discipline throughout his full career. He should never feel as if he is super and can't be more. He should always continue to learn.If he says "Now I know this job, its enough.", he can't be that successful.Emre can play in all clubs in the world but if he does what I say he can be a "Hagi".
"Why I shout?"
To the referees…
I have got very bored about those questions about the referees. Everyone asks me that "Why you always shout?". Who will shout? Who will talk? Emre? I am 36 years old of course I will talk. A clever referee accepts to make a dialogue. Have I ever kicked someone? But the number of kicks I have been subjected to is not known. I ask why they don't show any cards, but they pick the easy way and show a card to me.
I never shout at him with a bad intention. He is my friend. I shout at him for his and Galatasaray's success because I want him to score all the times. Who is at the goal area? Jardel.The others are at the back. So, of course I will shout at him. I like the player who really lives and feels the game. I also want him to live it. No need to compare him with Hakan Sükür. They are both number 9's and they both score.
"My five-year secret"
When I first came to Galatasaray I insisted on a point in my contract.I said that "If we became the UEFA Champion's I want extra premium.". I never forget that day. Everyone laughed at it and put the matter into the contract because no one believed it at all. But I believed. And we reached our goal and I got the premium. (Hagi got $150.000 as UEFA Cup bonus.)
Notes from Hagi…
Galatasaray started this operation 5 years ago. With Fatih Terim, the mentality of playing has changed.
Even opponents respected us. Turkish people became happy with us. Only Galatasaray did this in Turkey.
Galatasaray was lucky to find Terim and it is also clever to get Lucescu after him.
Lucescu is a clever man. He didn't discover America again. He followed the way Terim has left.
The most dangerous thing in Galatasaray is that players have satisfied with the success. Everyone should see and know that.
From time to time I get nervous. You should have noticed this also in trainings and camps. But this originates from my discipline.
The rules have to be obeyed. I do my job. When it finishes, I do jokes also but my job is at the first place.
- I am really bored of those cameras. At the airport, inside the airplane, in trainings… They are everywhere. Sometimes they really go beyond the limits.
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Interview done by "World Soccer"
WORLD SOCCER: So you've definitely decided that this is to be your final season. That's a real pity.
GHEORGHE HAGI: Pity or not - my age doesn't give me a choice. I now have to get used to the idea of life without playing football. That's obviously going to be difficult, but, on the other hand, it's much better to say goodbye while I am still able to play for 90 minutes. I'd rather that than be relegated to sitting on the bench and becoming an embarrassment to the fans.
Do you feel fatigued?
I see players of 23 or 24 who suffer from the crazy pace of the game, so how could I feel otherwise, at 36?
How far can Galatasaray go in the Champions League?
If we win the group, we will play in the Final, at the San Siro stadium. I have no doubt of that. We are at the peak of our game, we're in great shape, we're playing very well.
Are you sure the team are up to playing in a Champions League Final?
A year ago, we knocked out Milan. This year, we'll be playing the Final on their home turf. It's destiny - it's all pre-ordained.
This Galatasaray seem to be a more adaptable team, compared to how it was during (coach) Fatih Terim's time.
Terim wasn't the issue - the issue is that, before, nobody knew who or what we were, so we used to be able to surprise everyone. Nowadays, other teams study us, they fear us, and so they develop tactics targeted against the way we play. But, in turn, we have changed and we now consider that anything is possible, because we have plenty of invaluable experience of playing at the highest level.
How is Terim regarded?
Here in Turkey he is considered a great man. We are all fans of his here. In five months he built up a phenomenal side at Fiorentina. Name me another foreigner capable of that. He's extraordinary - he could coach any side.
You are an idol for many youngsters, but when you were growing up, who were your heroes?
When I was a child we did not get to see many international games, but even so, I was aware that the greatest player was Johan Cruyff. When I went to Barcelona in 1994, when he was then coach, I went because of him. It was great, even though I didn't always get a game. Working with him, I fulfilled my potential. He was amazing - the best. The Romanian who impressed me as a child was (Anghel) Iordanescu, a creative player, and left-footed too. Later, he was my coach at Steaua and then in the national side - an indescribable feeling for me.
In 1990 you left Romania and were able to see all the great international players. Who, in particular, inspired you?
At 25, you can only really have yourself as a role model. You can only seek to improve your own game.
Is there anything that you haven't liked about the past 20 years in football?
Today, you seem to be considered good only if you can run fast, or are physically strong. What about individual skills? But slowly, slowly, I can see a new move back towards the basics. I think Italy is still the best model, with the best-organised football and the best all-round game. No one prepares for a game like the Italians do. Perhaps the results are not so very different to the way they were a few years ago - in football you either win or you lose; but believe me, the whole world still looks on with envy at Italian football. That's a good form of envy, because everyone is paying attention and wants to learn from Italian football.
Turning to Galatasaray, who would you say was the better forward, Mario Jardel or Hakan Sukur?
That's a delicate question. Jardel, Sukur - these are the players who score. But then, there are great moments for every player. Jardel scores all the time at Galatasaray, but (former Inter coach) Marcello Lippi didn't want him because, so he said, he didn't move much. However, Lippi took Hakan Sukur, who certainly can move but who doesn't score as much as Jardel. The goals Sukur has scored have been crucial, but, then again, he isn't consistent, which is vital for an attacker. If Hakan can play with consistency, you'll see him scoring as he did when he was at Galatasaray.
Why were you never named European Footballer of the Year?
Because I was born in Romania.
Is that such a big deal for the judges?
It's important enough. Up to the age of 25 I played for a very big club, the biggest in Europe in its time - Steaua Bucharest - but the fact that this is a Romanian team counted against me.
Your compatriot Adrian Mutu cost Inter £1.7million; Shevchenko of Ukraine cost Milan £15m; and Yugoslavia's Mateja Kezman cost PSV Eindhoven £10m. Why such big differences in price?
Because Steaua is no longer a big club. People come to Romania, they see a player just once and don't get a true picture of him. So they take him on as some kind of promising player, or a risk, and this type of player costs comparatively little. Shevchenko and the others from Dynamo Kyiv played in the Champions League, so it was easy to study them and evaluate their prospects. But it's one thing to see a player in an international competition and quite another to see him playing in his home country's league. If Steaua were to shine again in Europe, the price of Romanian players would go up again.
Is such a thing likely or possible?
That depends entirely on the presidents of the Romanian sides - on their plans.
It's sad news that you don't want to play with the national team any longer.
I think, having played for Romania for 17 years, I've earned the right to say: "That's enough." I can no longer play for 90 minutes every three days and to play anything less wouldn't interest me. In Romania, they are so used to seeing a brilliant Hagi, I wouldn't want to spoil the image.
They've been busy trying to find your successor. Who do you think that could be?
There are many great young players. I won't name anyone because that might make them big-headed.
Go on, give us one name.
OK, Alin Stoica.
How can someone make himself the new Hagi?
By being patient and tenacious, and by finding a team that believes in you, that gives you a regular place in the side, that helps you grow and keeps you on an even keel. That's the luck that I had in playing for Steaua - a great club and a great team.
Let's talk about Turkish football. There are now some crazy salaries being paid.
Yes, but you also see those in Italy and Spain. And I believe David Beckham's projected new contract isn't bad either. There are 'normal' salaries in Turkey too.
Would you recommend a top player to come to a Turkish club?
I don't see why not. A lot of progress has been made in Turkey. When I arrived five years ago things were very different. Today, the clubs are much better organised.
Who have been the biggest influences on Turkish football?
The Germans, without a doubt - the first foreign players and coaches came from there.
After 20 years of trophies, do you have any regrets?
None. You could talk of sadness - but not regrets.
Not even having chosen to sign for Real Madrid in 1990?
No, because at that time Real was the right choice to make, even though I had plenty of other offers.
And what would be your biggest sadness?
Not having played in a big Italian side. Milan wanted me, and others too.
Your farewell game will be on April 23. They say that you, the so-called Maradona of the Carpathians, haven't invited the real Maradona.
I haven't decided anything yet.
What are your plans for when you stop playing?
To be a coach.
Anywhere in particular?
No, I haven't thought about it. In any case I don't know who would want me.
Would you want to start off coaching a club's youth team?
No. I believe that once you've reached a certain level, you mustn't go below it.
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HAGI:"If you ask me about the goals I remember or my contribution to Galatasaray's campaign in the Champions League, I could do worse than remember the goal I scored against Milan when we beat them 2-0 in Istanbul in the second group phase and earned a place in the quarter-finals for the first time."
"I couldn't believe it"
"There was the keeper right in front of me and he looked enormously tall. So I just got the tip of my boot to the ball so as to get it as high as possible and try to put it over him. The next thing I realised was that the ball was going into the net! I couldn't believe it, because scoring from that situation seemed almost impossible.
"I don't think it was that significant just because it was a goal, but because it sort of summed up the things that I have always believed in. It was a combination of technique, inspiration and the willingness to take risks. I have always believed that where there's a will, there' s a way.
Up until last season, Galatasaray's big hang-up was the team's form away from
home. Then, suddenly, it changed. What happened?
"We had been gaining experience and confidence, but needed an away victory to give us the conviction we lacked. Even though we had won in Berlin before that, the turning point came in Dortmund last season. Winning there convinced us that we were strong enough to beat anybody. It's all in the mind. A question of self-belief."
Has doing so well in the UEFA Champions League been a good way to end your
love playing in the Champions League"
"Yes, I love playing in the Champions League. It's the best thing a player can aspire to. These days, you have to play so many games. But the ones you really feel super-motivated about are the matches in the Champions League."
Have you learned valuable things from the progress you have helped
Galatasaray and Turkish football to make in recent years?"
"Yes, it's an example to follow. Galatasaray had the good sense to base their team on Turkish talent and to import players who could add experience because they had played at top European clubs, plus a coach who had a driving ambition to reach the top, Fatih Terim. I think that Taffarel, Popescu, myself and Jardel have all brought something to the club, based on our experience at clubs like Real Madrid or Barcelona.
"You have to think you are the best"
"Not only on the pitch, but also in terms of organisation and attitude. I have tried to communicate the idea that, every day in training, you have to think that you are the best and that you can achieve your ambitions. Nothing is impossible. Galatasaray, of course, is an eastern club with certain problems. But, after years of hard work, we have not only built a winning team but also a winning attitude."
" Do you feel that you have made a significant contribution to this change?
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PRAISE FROM THE MASTER TO THE NOVICE
Galatasaray's Romanian star stated that Emre, whom Hagi calls "my next heir", is so lucky to play in a club like Galatasaray despite his young age, and he will be very successful throughout the coming years.Emre says on the other hand, "I owe everyhing to Hagi..."
Galatasary took their first cup in this season.Hagi was not playing due to his ban, the shirt numbered 10 was worn by Emre, whom Hagi always supported and liked the way he plays football.He was knowing that Emre will be successful and he was not wrong...
Hagi: I saw my teenagehood in Emre
Hagi praised Emre, who plays nearly in all games despite his young age.The master player says" Emre is very young and playing in Galatasaray is a great chance for him.He will improve his football in the future.May be he will play in a European team."
We requested Hagi to take a picture which Emre kisses Hagi's hand but he didn't accepted.Later we said "Then you kiss Emre's forehead.His answer was interesting. "We are people of the same kind.Can such a thing be acceptable?" Then we accepted that he is right and didn't insist further.
Emre whom Hagi considers as his follower, does not make us feel that Hagi is missing.Emre managed to do his duty very well in Turkish Cup match played against Besiktas which Hagi was missind due to his ban and took his master's praise.
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EVERYONE IS WATCHING US
Hagi: We are the champions for the last three season, we became the team to be targeted
Romanian player states that winning the title will be much harder this year and adds "National Team and Galatasaray were not going together, I had to chose one of them and I chosed Galatasaray."
Gheorghe Hagi is a symbolized name in Galatasaray.He has fans from all parts of the society...From younger to older...From Fenerbahce fan to Besiktas fan...
He is playing football for many years and he is at the top of his fame.And we made a quite nice interview with this man who is at the peak of his career.
Does football have an end?
A football player is quite similar with an artist.He performs his art till the end of his life.I can never say a thing like "I know everything about football." Because there can always be a thing which I don't know.
What is the speed of your kick?
I didn't meaured but this is my special talent.Seeing the ball turning and going its way gives me a different pleasure.
What about being forgotten after retiring?
First I will be inside the football.I want to be a coach but I will see what will happen when the time comes.
Do you get angry when you lose a match?
Football has a short time and it is impossible to compensate.You can not get it back when you lose.Such days pass with a dissatisfaction but life goes on...
What about the relationship among Turkey and Romania?
We have the same culture because we are neighbours.Thats why we have warm relationships and Romanian players become successful in Turkey.
How will the League be this year?
It will be much harder compared to previous years because we won the title for the last three years.The teams which try to get this right from us became more powerful as a must because we are the target.
What about the Romanian Football?
Our jeneration has ended up. The young generation will come out after now but it still has some more time...
Any "Hagi"'s out of them?
I became "Hagi" a Hagi. Some player will come out to wear number 10 for sure but the name will be different.May be he will be more famous.Time is very important for us.
Where do you think Galatasaray is now?
Football is a competition.It is played by attacking...Galatasaray is at a good place now and media has a great deal on it.They compete with eahcother to broadcast Galatasaray and they spend money for that.Then we can say that Galatasaray has a good position.
What is the reason for your retirement from National Team?
I had to chose one of them and I chosed Galatasaray beacuse I serve here and get money in return.And another reason is that I could not be in Romania one day and in Turkey the next day but just after the matches finished here I went and played the match against Hungary.
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HAGI SONG IS IN THE LIMELIGHT
Ceausescu's poet Paunescu composed a song for Galatasaray's star Hagi who will wear the National player shirt for the last time at the match against Hungary which Romania couldn't beat for 63 years...
Thousands of fans will sing this song composed for Hagi, together before the European Futboal Championship elimination match Romania will play against Hungary.The song named "You are the Best" were presented to Hagi for his return to Romania National Team.The song is composed by Romania's former dictator Causescu's poet who is now the General President of Socialist Party, Adrian Paunescu.
Everyone in Romania, young or old, concentrated on this match which they will play against 63 year unbeatable Hungary.Media is giving a great importance to this match.Tickets have run out before several days.Romanians are waiting this historical victory impatiently but mostly a goal or an assist from Hagi's magical foot.Romanians who are expecting to celebrate the victory have already dressed up their houses and strees with flags...
*** YOU ARE THE BEST ***
Love of home, love of nation / Does not let you stay in your place / Forget about the bad / Return home, serve your nation
Even if your decision of not playing / Lyes on disaster and response / For our country and yourself / Your duty is to be the best
Even if dreams have called for this way / You can't live alone / When you don't have anywhere to go /
Now our red, yellow and blue flag / Needs you as a soldier / For the memories of your mother and father / Come back and fight again
One more time show us /
How good Romanians /
You Macedonian's are / Let's
feel the happiness of your return with you...
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Pro Sport Magazine has made a special issue for Romanian national hero Hagi...
The greatest name of last period in Romania: Gheorghe Hagi...Two names are spelled abroad when the word "Romania" is heard: one i Hagi and the other is Ceasusescu...
Pro Sport has devoted 40 pages to Hagi, who returned to his National Team in the latest Hungary match.
Hagi, who migrated to the town from Scale ,a village of Constanta, continued his passion of football at the pitch 100 metres away from his school.Iosif Bukossy who heard little Gica's talent from a friend, took him to Farul Constanta which he coached for 25 years. Farul Constanta's former, Dinamo Bucharest's present president Petre Buduru says that : " Hagi has a natural talent. He is a gift of God.Even if he does not make an effort this talent will show itself."
Gica, who completes the training period,joins the team containing famous names,at the age 17 in year 1982 which Farul Constanta was ascended to first division.He plays 19 games and scores 2 goals in his first year...
Lets listen this period from Hagi: "We had a good coach.In the spring on 1982, I played my first match with Bacau.Later in my third match I scored a goal in an away Steaua Bucuresti match and make my team get a draw."
One year later Hagi, who wants to attend to the university without an exam an also thinking his sister's education makes a contract with Universitatea Craiova.Causescu's son Nicu, who is the honorary president and the hidden sponsor of Sportul Studentesc, interferes in a week and makes Hagi join the team and registers him to the university at Bucharest at the ame time.Hagi was a 18 year old teenager at those times.His team mate at that period and the recent president of Rapid Bucharest Paul Cazan says that: "He was shy.May be too shy...He used to sing Macedonian song in his merry moments.His voice was quite good.He even used to entartain us ."
After 4 seasons he makes an obligatory transfer to Steaua Bucuresti but this time Ceausescu's elder son Valentin interferes. Valentin and his brother were almost like enemies and he transfers Hagi to the army2s team showing as if he is hired.In 1986 Steaua who won the European Champion Clubs Cup faces with Dinamo Kiev at European Super Cup.At this final Hagi makes his team win 1-0 with a magnificent free-kick goal.Steaua who added Hagi tothe team, won the title three times consequtively.
Hagi is transferred by Real Madrid which paid 4 million dollars.This is one of the highest amount of Romania and Europe.He stayed 2 years in Spain but couldn't won a title.He worked with Toshack and Antic at that period.
Hagi talks about his transfer to Brescia like that: "Butragueno, Sanchis and Hierro formed groups and thats why I passed to Lucescu's team Brescia.I met with Sabau and Raducioiu there.Italian media used to talk about us as "Romanian Triangle".But we fell to Serie B and although I got some offers, I didn't left because I didn't want to let people say "He ran away".But when I become very successful in the World Cup took place in America, I went to Barcelona.
After he plays in Euro 96 in England he goes to Galatasaray...
"My happiest days are in Steaua and CimBom!"
Hagi says his best days were in Steaua and Galatasaray throughout his career.He thanked to his first coach Bukossy and added "He discovered me brought to these days.My eyes are opened in football world by means of him.And Mircea Lucescu after him...He invited me to Romanian National Team at the age 17." He also said that his best friends are Balint, Belodedici and Popescu..
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CHAMPIONS LEAGUE MAGAZINE INTERVIEW
Hagi made interesting explanations to UEFA's Champion's League Magazine...Romanian player stated that he will not be apart from football and declared his followers: Rui Costa and Zidane...
Hagi, who will retire from National Team with a gala match, said: "Hagi is football, football and football...I am married with football and I will die if we break up..."
"I began at Constanta"
began football at Constanta...Nearly 20 years passed from that day...I weared
national shirt at 3 World Cups and 2 European Championships.I came to
Galatasaray after my Real Madrid, Barcelona and Italy experiences.I am 36 years
old and its time to say goodbye...Hagi is married with football and he has no
chance to break up."
"I devoted my life to my country"
always dreamed to represent my country when I was a child.I realized this as a
player.I gained a lot of experience and great honour at National Team.If my
country assigns me a duty as a trainer I will do it with a pleasure.There are
lots of talented young people at Romania...They just need a guide."
"I have almost no investments"
"I made very few investments other than football.I can not get the fame and happiness I got from football at another area.This game made me see myself as an individual and feel the security and joy. Another job? No, thanks... One who sees my ambition at the field, can easily understand that football makes me live.But this ambition sometimes leads me to behave wrong.I get carried away by this willingness to win."
"I become as happy as a kid after a goal"
"Some people always deal with the way I celebrate a goal.Of course I will be happy...Because I don't have much time...While I was leaving a great career behind, I want to end it in a great way also.I hope it happens with the Champions League Title."
"You can do crazy things"
you have inspiration and love football every game becomes different from the
previous.You get pleasure from every moment...Good or bad...You sometimes can
not score to a goal without a goalkeeper and a set at the trainings but I do
that at the matches...Believing is very important.You should prepare yourself to
do crazy things..."
"Number 10 needs attention"
"Players wearing shirts numbered 10 will soon be popular.Because it will be
the only difference between the teams.You can not win without number 10.Like
Platini and Zidane at Juventus.Milan was lack of number 10 but Van Basten was
doing this duty.My candidates for number 10 after me are Rui Costa and
Zidane...Although Leonardo and Rivaldo are not classical playmakers, they are
very good players.This is the secret of big teams."
"I hope I will always be remembered good"
hope people will always remember me good.With the way I read the game, with my
free-kicks, my left foot, with 125 national appearances and with my long
shots... I hope they will remember me as a person who devoted his life to
football, fully reflected his heart to the field from the first match to the
last.This will make me happy. I won't die after I retire from football, just
like my love of football..."
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Amazing Rise of Romanian Football Player:
He is the son of a Macedonian family which had to immigrate two times…He was very poor…He was born in a village, inside the mud, barefood, and began football by running after a ball made of horse-hair. He became a star during Causescu times...But Hagi was able toplay abroad after he was overturned. Here it is…. The legend of Hagi by Grigore Cartianu…
The fall of 1932… 20 horse carriages were put in a row in a dusty road of a small town, Kavala, located at the north of Greece… The courtyard was crowded and people were running around… These people were either Macedonian or Aromen.They were preparing to leave the grounds they borned, perpetually. That is to say, a usual Balkan scene…
Two carriages in the group belonged to Hagi family. Clothes, thick blankets, pans, soil dishes, well-sharpened axes and cheese barrels…Before going their way Gheorghe and Sultana Hagi looked at their fathers’ house for the last time…Raised his fist. He left the people, who have sent them away from their fathers’ home, to the justice of God.
Grandson of a Christian Hadji
In the past centuries, for Macedonians, the name “Hagi” was only carried by the people who have visited the “Holy Mountain”. Since the way through Jerusalem was so dangerous, people who have visited Holy Mountain and turned back were welcomed with a great ceremony. And the title Hagi was added to their names. Hadji, but the Christian one. They have taken this word from Ottomans.For Macedonians, “hagi” or “hagiu” means the person who should be respected and praised.One of the fathers of Hagi had also visited Holy Mountain.As the time passed, the original surname of the family has dissapeared and they used to be called as Hagi.
Immigrants of Exchange
Finally Hagi family have reached Romanian Kingdom and settled in “Big Kaynarc*” village close to Bulgaria.6 months later, Sultana Hagi had a son, Iancu, father of our football star.
Why did Hagi family was forced to leave their home? According to the Lausanne agreement, a population
exchange took place between Turkey and Greece and Greek government forced Macedonians to leave the grounds of north to almost 1.5 million Greek people coming from Turkey.
They were just getting used to live there but in 1940, Romania has been forced to give this place to Bulgaria.Again a migration began…Macedonians set out on a journey to the north once more. Hagi family settled in a village, Sacele, in the northern side of Constanta.
Iancu nicknamed “chatty”, married with Chirata, an emigrant like him. Famous player, was borned in 4-5 February 1965 night as the fourth child of this family. His name was Gheorghe.He was given his grandfather’s and his elder brother’s, who died when he was just 9 months old, name. But they called him “Gica” in short.
When did Gica Hagi touch the ball with his foot for the first time? Nobody knows…But in 1966, when he was at the age of two, he has given a strange present. Grandfather Gheorghe has dryed the urine bag of a pig after washing and cleaning it. It is the time when Gica met ball…
When he was at the age of four he was playing with the ball made of cloth made by his grandmother Sultana.And after a year, his grandfather made a new ball from horsehairs. There were no goals, field was on an ascent. Gica was always barefoot but the pleasure was great. Gica owned a real ball when he was 6.His mother bought it from the city.
Migration from village to town
Life in village was getting harder. Hagi’s were even having their girls work on the land. It was an inevitable decision. It was the spring of 1973.Gica has just finished second class. Hagi family put their stuff on a truck and moved to Constanta.They were migrating again, but this time from village to town.
They settled in Coiciu, a small town in which Macedonian’s live. They used to have a small house and a small garden to feed animals. Sheeps were grazing at the area just beside them.
Gica got closer to a football group consisting of Macedonians.The matches were held in a wide, isolated area street. Gica was 9, he was the youngest and also rather small. They made him goalkeeper. Sometimes they let him go forward and Gica was scoring goals as soon as he gets the ball. And he used to shout as “Goaaal Iordanescu!” or “Goaaal Dumitru!”. They were the heroes of Steau Bucharest he used to watch on TV and Gica is a fan of that team beginning from those times.
He is Being Discovered
April 1975.One Tuesday, a player of F.C Constanta youth team, said to his coach Iosif Bukossi that; “There is a boy at twentythird school, he destroyes everyone.”
Bukossi met with Hagi this way. “He was so small that, I asked him whether the boy he praised is this one or not. But I said, anyway let’s try. I sent the boy to the back of the goal. He was running after the balls which the goalkeeper misses and before sending it back, he was playing with the ball on his foot a couple of times. The way he used to kick the ball was not different from the players who has been trained for some years.”
And, Iancu’s son, at the age of ten, was supported by Bukossi from 4 April 1975 to some time.
Favourite of Causescu Family
Hagi has grown up during the time of Causescu Family’s dictatorship. He signed a contract with “Universitatea Craiova” which is a university team and he registered to Craiova University’s Faculty of Economics.But Causescu’s son Nicu was the Minister of Youth and the honorary president of Sportul Studentesc.Nicu, wanted Hagi.And running waters used to stop once he wants something. Hagi passed to Bucharest Faculty of Economics.Everyone was chasing him. A Romainan saying is that “If an orange is sweet, press it upto the end your power allows, otherwise other people will.”And Hagi was a rare orange in Romanian football garden. And after that Steaua Bucharest wanted to get him. Causescu’s brother General Ilie went between and Hagi was transferred to that team as civil personnel of the army.
They asked football in the examination
Romania-Galler match ended with a score of 5-1 in 20th of April in 1992.Hagi was excellent. A special plane was waiting to take Hagi to Spain (he was playing for Real Madrid) but Hagi were to attend to the graduation examination. Although they insisted much, he was willing to graduate from the school. He went to the academy and attended the examination. Members of the commition were all famous economics proffessors. When Gica began to talk about profit, management etc., they stopped him and said “Thas okay! We have heard those much. Leave it. Tell us about how did you score that excellent goal from 30 meters yesterday? Will we be able to qualify for the World Cup? How things are going in Madrid?” And Hagi finished the faculty as well…
Bribe from Agnelli to Romania
Hagi has received the attention of Giovanni Agnelli, the owner of Fiat and Juventus, in a tournament at Italia.Agnelli came to Bucharest ans said “Give Hagi to Juventus and I will build a Fiat factory in Bucharest at the expense.” But the government declined that offer. In 1989 this time Milan’s owner Berlusconi took action and commissioned Giovanni Becali, a refugee escaped from Romania, for that.
Becali says: “I was continuously following Hagi with a taxi. In Belgium, Netherlands, West Germany, everywhere. Once I offered money and he couldn’t believe it because two thousand marks was great money at those times. He slowly accepted to make a contact. He had learned that I escaped from Romania because of Causescu and our conversations were mainly concentrated on refuging to the West.But I told about the risks of that. He would not be able to play football for 11 months and the worst thing was the longing of family. In the end I realized that it would be completely meaningless to insist on because Hagi used to have very strong emotional bonds to his family.
Gica couldn’t participate in any official matches till 1976 because he was not satisfying the minimum age. In July 1976 a tournament between Scout Clubs in Constanta was organized and this was a good chance for Gica.After making relevant contacts, they decided to make 11 year old Gica play in the team representing Constanta.Hagi scored goals one after another, from the beginning of the tournament. However; the team couldn’t win the tournament.
The trainings continued…In March 24 1978 Hagi got the identity card numbered 97.515 of F.C Constanta.He was a 13 year old official player now…This “gamin” of coach Bukossi also took the attention of the coach of the national team.
Gica used the stay in the field even after the trainings because he wasn’t have to share the ball that he used to love with anyone.
Now the job was serious and it was time for discipline. Gica was using his left food and the problem of right foot must be solved. His coach was making jokes like “If you will use your right foot only for getting on a bus, you can’t go far in football.”
In 1979, Gica went to France and played his first match against Greece.For the first time in his life he was wearing the red, yellow and blue coloured shirt. And Greece lost the game…
First Money He Earned: $50
After being thirs in the tournament, boys have earned some money. Hagi’s share was almost 50 dollars. This was the first money he earned.
Gica Hagi was rising. He was creating miracles both in his own team and the young national team. But since all kids in the young national team had to finish secondary school in Bucharest, he moved…He continued football, together with secondary school. By the time he was graduating from secondary school, many first league teams were chasing him. But the most important miracle happened in the beginning of 1983, National Team coach Mircea Lucescu called him for the National Team camp.
In 29th of January, he came to Istanbul for the first time but he sat at the bench. One month later, he came to Turkey again to play two matches but the team had to return to Romania after the first match because of the bad weather conditions.
He signed a contract with a university team “Universitatea Craiova’’ and registered to the Faculty of Economics of Craiova University.Causescu’s son Nicu, Minister of Youth and honorary president of “Sportul Studentesc” was willing to transfer Hagi.By making necessary pressures he realized it. He even took Hagi to Bucharest Faculty of Economics.And a new period for Hagi has just started.
80.000 kilometers, 13 countries, 100 matches…
By the time passed Hagi gradually matured. He travelled 80.000 kilometers, played 100 matches at home, played in 13 different countries and attented to 4 different camps. Steaua Bucharest was willing to transfer him and he joined to army as a civil, in other words to Steaua Bucharest…
The year 1990 started surprisingly. Now there was democracy and Hagi’s previous teams wanted him back. But Hagi was sure that he would get some offers from abroad. And it happened so… In 15th of February, five popular teams of Europe began to compete with eachother for Hagi.In the end Hagi joined to Real Madrid.
Toshack, “The Devil”
From the beginning of his Real Madrid days, he couldn’t go well with Toshack.When Toshack was dismissed he said: “Being sorry? Why should I be sorry? He is not my father!” Di Stefano coming after Toshack reminded Hagi the proverb: “Devil has gone, his brother came.”. But he was a professional and should be patient.
After 1994, this time Barcelona wanted Hagi.Johan Cruyff mobilized Becali and after long bargainings the contract has been made. Hagi’s job was not easy because he had to compete with Stoickov, Romario and Ronald Koeman as a foreigner.
It was his last match in Barcelona…It was necessary for him to have a good holiday but the next team he would play for was unknown. Many offers, but no decision…In the middle of July, Becali phoned Hagi and asked whether he would like to play in Mexico or not. At first, Hagi was dissapointed…He was willing to play in one of the important teams of Europe but the financial portrait of the situation begin to persuade him. He was 31,5 years old and time to say goodbye to football was coming.
It was time to go to Mexico…Everything was prepared even the plane tickets. Suddenly something unbelievable happened…Lets listen this from Becali:
“Just at that moment someone from Turkey called me and asked Hagi’s situation. It was 14:00 when they called and the second president of Galatasaray and two other managers came to Bucharest at 20.30.The negotiation last until early morning and we decided to make a 3 year contract by Hagi’s approval. I told that; first I will prepare the necessary papers then I will come back with Hagi.The following morning we went to Istanbul by the special plane of Turk’s. I couldn’t believe my eyes when we arrived at the airport. Almost 300 news staff and hundreds of cameras were waiting there…
Fatih Terim: I want Hagi.That’s all!
Becali tells his first meeting with Fatih Terim like that: “The following day we went to see Faruk Suren, the president of Galatasaray, but we couldn’t come to an agreement. Without making any agreements I was on the way of the airport. The second president Ergun Gursoy asked me in the car that “Florya is just on our way. Would you like to visit and meet with Fatih Terim?”.I said, ok then lets go…Florya was absolutely the centeral base. Terim told me that; “Mr. Becali, I want Hagi.I know well that he is a bit difficult, but I want him in Galatasaray!” He promised me to arrange everything. He was not the president of the team, he was only a coach so I was not persuaded. He said “You will receive the signed contract this night.”The board of directors gathered and I was returning to Bucharest with the contract in July 31.When I took Gica from his house and brought him to Turkey, I witnessed the greatest greeting ceremony of football history.”
We should Clone “Hagi”
May 16 1999.There was a discussion panel in “Antena 1” TV of Bucharest.Special guest was Hagi.Everyone was trying to persuade Hagi to play for National Team but he was insisting on his decision. The telephone lines were out of order. Everyone was calling the channel. But there was a surprise. Ioji Bükössi participated in live broadcast. He was begging Hagi and saying “Please, come back to your place in National Team.”.It was difficult for Hagi, he got excited. The taxi drivers waiting out were sounding horns. And the expected thing happened. Hagi went out to the street and said: “I am playing against Hungary.I expect to see you all in the stadium, I hope we will celebrate the victory together.”
It was 3:34 am…After a month, Romanian National Team, won their first victory of 63 years against Hungary,in Bucharest.Everyone’s opinion was the same: “We should clone Hagi!”.
In December 1999, Romanian Federation of Football awarded Hagi as the “Best Romanian Player of All Times”. The biggest stadium in Costanta was renamed as “Gheorghe Hagi”.
Two Upsetting News
28.09.1997…Hagi has learned that his father passed away. He suddenly remembered his entire childhood and his father who had always shared his last morsel with his children…”Eat my dear son…You should be great! I am satiated when I see you eating.” Maradona ofCarpathian’s was crying sobbingly.3 days after, more than one thousand people bid farewell Iancu Hagi.
Another painful news in 25.02.1999, this time his mother passed away. Hagi was in Erzurum when he heard it. People near him say that his face became purple and his chin was locked. He immediately flied to Constanta.
The Fans Kneel Down
With the start of Turkish 1st League, a Hagi recital also started in Turkey.He was the new idol of Turkish people. Hagi couldn’t believe his eyes. He experienced things he even could not imagine…Traffic was upside-down, people were sounding horns, singing marches after the victories and everyone was calling his name…
Emre cried when Hagi mended his shoes
Turkish people loved Hagi not only because he is a successful player but also he is so sincere in all the work he does. For example, he paid a great attention to Emre, Turkish football’s big hope for the future, during Emre’s training period. Emre tells us about a memory: “ Before a match there was a problem in my crampons. Hagi get a special key and immediately solved the problem himself. I began to cry because I was so excited that such a great player was caring with a nonfamous player like me.”
The happiest time in his career…Victory of UEFA Cup with Galatasaray…He lived this victory, which he couldn’t experience in biggest European teams, with Galatasaray.
“Let’s leave the last words to Hagi because he is not only the greatest Romanian player of all times but also the player who has been mostly interviewed.” The book named “Hagi” ends with these sentences and gives a selection from the interviews he has been made.
*** My father was very clever. I take ambition and character from him and my talent from my mother.
*** When I was young, my legs were shaking before some important games.
*** One of my brother-in-laws is a Dinamo Bucharest fan and he cleans his shoes with my Steau Bucharest player shirt.
*** The first word at Real Madrid was "loneliness" for me...Sometimes we were going out with Buyo and Chendo.I learned what proffessional player means, there. I used to play only for fun at Causescu time.
*** I worked willingly in every team. I even cried after some games. If a player can not cry after losing important games, he can't be a great player.
*** Galatasaray fans depend on and love me very much and they always want to win.
*** I can not go out comfortably in Istanbul because all the fans attack me... They want to take photos,
signatures and kisses...
*** I always become impatient to go home after an 11 months' away work. My parents' house is always sacred for me.
*** After the trainings I go home and play with my children. That’s a need for me... There are some times which family is more important than football. I want to raise my children comfortably.
*** It has been 25 years since I began playing football. So I can say that I made my silver wedding ceremony
*** Sometimes I think whether the things happened in my life are real or not. World Cup 94 memories are very important for me. The goals I scored against Colombia and Argentina can be considered as the "most importants" of my entire career.
*** I never think to be a politician. I have choosen football and will stay there.
*** If I can still play football at the age of 35, I can say that someone above loves me very much.
*** I wish I could play accordion.
*** If the dirtiness in Romanian League continues, I won't return to such a dishonest league. I don't want to die from being nervous or because of a heart attack. I made my name by working so hard for a lot of years and I won't let anybody to come and stain it. There is a proverb " If you enter to the dishes which pigs eat their meal, pigs will eat you also."
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