Romania reach the semifinals of the European Under-21 Championship hosted by Italy and San Marino.
to the semifinals of the European Under-21 Championship having won Group C
after defeating Croatia 4-1 and England 4-2 and a goalless draw against France.
These results have also secured Romania's ticket to the Olympic Games in Tokyo.
The last time Romania qualified for the Olympic Games was also in Tokyo, in
1964, when they made it to the quarterfinals. This will be Romania's fourth
participation in the Olympic Games in football, after 1924, 1952 and 1964.
achievement in Italy is the biggest in the history of Under-21 football in
Romania. It is the result of efforts that began with Gheorghe Hagi's football
academy, which has supplied ten of the players in the Romanian Under-21 side,
including Ianis Hagi, the son the great Romanian player. This was accompanied,
at the level of Romanian football, by an obligation imposed on big teams to
promote young players. A rule was established in League One that each side
should have an under-21 player on the pitch at all times, a rule that made a
lot of people unhappy, but which has yielded results. We should also not
overlook the role played by the team's current manager, the 38-year-old former
international player Mirel Radoi. The side owe him their solid, free-flowing
and aggressive play, which matches the players' talent.
In the semifinals
of the European Under-21 Championship held on Thursday in Bologna, Romania will
be facing the defending champions, the redoubtable German side. Although they
are the underdog, the Romanian players are optimistic and believe they can make
it to the final. Defender Ionut Nedelcearu:
this very much, we've worked extremely hard and we fully deserve this place in
the semifinals. My teammates and I have believed from the very start that we can
make it this far because we know what we're capable of. Tonight we'll celebrate
the qualification for the semifinals and tomorrow we'll think what to do about
Germany, because I believe we can also eliminate Germany."
In the other
semifinal, France are taking on Spain, also on Thursday, in Reggio Emilia. The
final is scheduled for Sunday in Udine, on the Dacia Arena stadium.