Gheorghe Hagi was born on 5 February 1965, in Săcele, Romania. He is considered one of the best attacking midfielders in Europe during the 1980s and 1990s and the greatest Romanian footballer of all time.
Romanians call him 'Regele' (The King), but he is also known as "The Maradona of the Carpathians" he is considered a hero in his homeland. He was named Romanian Footballer of the Year seven times, and is regarded as one of the best football players of his generation. As a creative advanced playmaker, he was renowned for his dribbling, technique, vision, passing and finishing.
Throughout his career he played for Steaua Bucuresti, Real Madrid, Brescia, Barcelona, Galatasaray as well as for the Romanian national team.
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 for two years. In 1982 he returned to Constanța, but one year later, aged 18, he was prepared to make the step to a top team. He was originally directed to Universitatea Craiova, but chose Sportul Studențesc of Bucharest instead.
The complete stats of Hagi's Farul Constanta career:
The complete stats of Hagi's Sportul Studentesc career:
Steaua Bucuresti career
In late 1987 Hagi transferred to the Romanian giants Steaua București as the team prepared for their European Super Cup final against Dynamo Kyiv. The original contract was for one game only, the final.
However, after winning the trophy, where Hagi scored the only goal of the game, Steaua did not want to release him back to Sportul Studențesc and retained him.
Gheorghe Hagi at Steaua Bucuresti.
During his Steaua years (1987–1990), Hagi played 97 Liga I games, scoring 76 goals. He and the team reached the European Cup semi-final in 1988 and the final in the following year. Hagi and Steaua were the champions of Romania in 1987, 1988 and 1989 and as well as winning the Cupa României in 1987, 1988 and 1989.
His strong performances had him linked with Arrigo Sacchi's AC Milan and FC Bayern Munich but Nicolae Ceaușescu's communist government rejected any offer.
The complete stats of Hagi's Steaua Bucuresti career:
Real Madrid career
After the 1990 World Cup, he was signed by Real Madrid. The La Liga side paid $4.3 million to Steaua București for him. Hagi played two seasons with Real Madrid.
Hagi's complete statistics at Real Madrid:
Hagi started the season 1992–1993 with Brescia but in the first season the club was relegated to Serie B; in the next season Hagi helped Brescia Calcio win Serie B and get promoted to Serie A.
Hagi's complete statistics at Brescia:
After performing memorably during the 1994 World Cup, Hagi was signed by Barcelona, where he only spent two years.
Hagi's complete statistics at Barcelona:
After two years at FC Barcelona, Hagi signed for Galatasaray. At Galatasaray, he was both successful and highly popular among the Turkish supporters. Hagi was an important member of a team that would win four consecutive league titles.
In 2000, at the age of 35, Hagi had the best days of his career winning every possible trophy with Galatasaray. Gala won the UEFA Cup after defeating Arsenal in the final.
Gheorghe Hagi at Galatasaray.
The UEFA Cup victory was followed by the capture of the European Super Cup with a historic win against Hagi's former club Real Madrid. Both feats were firsts, and remain unmatched in Turkish football history.
When he retired in 2001, he remained one of the most beloved players in the Turkish and Romanian championships. Hagi is highly praised by the Galatasaray supporters.
Hagi's complete statistics at Galatasaray:
Hagi made his debut for the Romania national team at the age of 18 in 1983 in a game against Norway played in Oslo. He was part of the Romanian team until 2000.
Hagi led the Romanian team to its best ever international performance at the 1994 World Cup, where the team reached the quarterfinals before Sweden ended their run after winning the penalty shoot-out. 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.
Gheorghe Hagi - Romania national team.
In the first of Romania's group stage matches, against Colombia, Hagi scored one of the most memorable goals of that tournament, curling in a 40-yard lob over Colombian goalkeeper Oscar Córdoba who was caught out of position. He was named in the Team of the Tournament.
Four years later, after the 1998 World Cup, Hagi decided to retire from the national team, only to change his mind after a few months and play at the 2000 European Football Championship, during which he was sent off in the quarter-final loss against Italy.
Hagi retired from professional football in 2001, age 36, in a game called "Gala Hagi" on 24 April. He still holds the record as Romanian national team top scorer.
Hagi's Romania statistics:
Throughout his career Hagi won many titles and awards.
- Romanian League: 1986–87, 1987–88, 1988–89
- Romanian Cup: 1986–87, 1988–89
- European Super Cup: 1986
- Supercopa de España: 1990
- Supercopa de España: 1994
- Turkish Super League: 1996–97, 1997–98, 1998–99, 1999–00
- Turkish Cup: 1998–99, 1999–00
- Turkish Super Cup: 1996, 1997
- UEFA Cup: 1999–00
- UEFA Super Cup: 2000
- Romanian League: Top Scorer 1985, 1986
- European Cup: Top Scorer 1987–88
- Romanian Footballer of the Year: 1985, 1987, 1993, 1994, 1997, 1999, 2000
- FIFA World Cup All-Star Team: 1994
- FIFA XI: 1998
- UEFA Jubilee Awards – Greatest Romanian Footballer of the last 50 Years: 2003
- FIFA 100: 2004
- Golden Foot Legends Award: 2015