Former football legend Gheorghe Popescu has accepted to take over as PM Tudose’s adviser on sports issues and is to deal with the organisation of Euro 2020, Premier Mihai Tudose announced Wednesday evening at the Antena 3TV private broadcaster.
“As of today, I have a new adviser on issue related to UEFA and sports. His name is Gica Popescu. I am grateful he has accepted. He is a former footballer, renown, a manager. I told him honestly: Gica, thank you for making your life a mess again, we will halp you, we’ll support you, but you will be the one to coordinate these issues,” Tudose said.
“I did this in order to help ourselves. (…) I admit the idea was Vice-premier Ciolacu’s, I saw it a great. The first time when he came, he was accompanied by Gica Hagi. I believe Gica Hagi will also help as much as he can. They are people who honoured Romania and now are getting into a complicated game. I am convinced they’ll do their best and we will grant all support,” the Premier said.
Gheorghe “Gică” Popescu was born on October 9, 1967. He is a retired Romanian football defender, former captain of FC Barcelona and key part of the Romania national team in the 1990s. He played for a string of European clubs in that period, including a four-year stint at PSV Eindhoven. His tactical knowledge as a defender made him a valuable team member in top European competitions until he reached his late-thirties. Beside from his defending skills, he was also capable starting attacks. He is the brother-in-law of fellow Romanian international Gheorghe Hagi.
After playing six seasons for Universitatea Craiova, Popescu was loaned to country giants Steaua Bucharest reaching the semi-finals of the European Cup during their 1987–88 campaign. He moved abroad to the Netherlands in 1990, and signed for PSV Eindhoven at the request of Sir Bobby Robson, helping them to keep among the top Dutch sides, until he was transferred to Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League on September 9, 1994.
At international level, Popescu is Romania’s all-time third most capped players with 115, in which he scored 16 goals. He played for his country in the 1990, 1994, and 1998 World Cups, Euro 96 and Euro 2000. He also entered the symbolic but exclusive circle of players with a century of caps.
On March 4, 2014, Popescu and seven others, among them Mihai Stoica, were convicted by a Romanian appeals court for money laundering and tax evasion in connection with the transfer of football players from Romania to other countries. Popescu was sentenced to a jail term of three years and one month.