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Fall from Grace: Ilie Dumitrescu

UNCLASSIFIEDIn 1994 Ilie Dumitrescu was on top of the world; the Romanian forward was starring for his country in a fine World Cup campaign, was nearing his peak at 25 years of age and had regularly been one of the best players in the Romanian league as he starred for Steaua Bucharest. A move to a bigger European team was clearly on the agenda, and most expected Dumitrescu to be right up for the job.

Dumitrescu had been one of Romania’s most promising players for a number of years; he’d broken into a very competitive Steaua team at the age of 19 and had remained a key player since, looking very creative and dangerous going forward. He excelled alongside the likes of Gheorghe Hagi and Marius Lacatus for Steaua and looked just as at home when with the national side, forming a deadly trio alongside Hagi and Florin Raducioui.

The World Cup in 1994 was what really alerted big teams to his presence; Dumitrescu played in all his team’s games as Romania made it to the quarter final, knocking out the mighty Argentina along the way. Dumitrescu himself was the star of the shock result against the Argentines, scoring twice and setting up a goal in an impressive 3 – 2 victory for the underdogs. The move was imminent and soon a move to Tottenham Hotspur was completed.

Dumitrescu was expected to make a big impact at Spurs but his career there took a massive blow before it had even started as scandal hit – Dumitrescu was rumoured to have been involved with a prostitute and, though he was later acquitted from the claim, Spurs were unwilling to play the player amidst the furore surrounding him and he was subsequently set out on loan to Spanish side Sevilla.

Although he didn’t score often in Spain Dumitrescu endeared himself to Sevilla fans with hard working performances and they wanted him signed on a permanent basis. A fee couldn’t be agreed with Spurs though and he returned to White Hart Lane for the 1995/6 season. Dumitrescu finally began playing for Spurs but failed to impress and was given little time to adapt, being sold to West Ham just half a year later.

Dumitrescu made several appearances for the Hammers over the remainder of the season but didn’t make much of an impact and had problems with a work permit issue. At the end of the season he moved to Mexico to join Club America. There he lasted just one season, failing to make a real impact and being sold on to league rivals Atlante. Again Dumitrescu flattered to deceive and a year later was on his way once again, now returning to his first team – Steaua. Dumitrescu looked capable of regaining old form with Steaua but his failures away from Romania had hit him hard and he retired from football just half a year later at the beginning of 1999 at the age of just 29.

Eager to remain in the sport, Dumitrescu established a company to help him become a football agent but things quickly backfired and it was back to the drawing board for the former Romania international. He then tried his hand at coaching but his coaching career was similar to the latter half of his playing career as he regularly moved from club to club and never settled, failing to gain success along the way as he managed in Romania, Cyprus and Greece. His management style was criticised for being too defensive and, aside from a brief spell at Panathinaikos recently, he has been out of the managing game recently.

Dumitrescu has recently worked as a commentator and it looks like he could finally settle doing something involved with the sport he loves but the way his career disintegrated was shocking to behold – scandal changed him from a promising player to a troubled journeyman and he never settled again. Football’s not been kind to Ilie Dumitrescu for a long time and he’ll be regarded by many European fans as a flop due to his disastrous performances out of Romania.

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Article title: Fall from Grace: Ilie Dumitrescu

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