Florin Raducioiu isn’t fondly remembered amongst West Ham United fans but, despite only donning claret and blue 11 times, he holds the Irons in high regard. A frequent net bulger in his homeland, Spain and Italy, Raducioiu was at his deadliest when he pulled on Romania’s colours, notching 21 times across his 40 caps. He sat down with news.bwin to talk about his country’s hopes for Euro 2016, as well as those of England, and to salute Slaven Bilic on a job well done.
Raducioiu on being only one of two players to have played in Europe’s top five divisions (West Ham, AC Milan, RCD Espanyol, VfB Stuttgart and AS Monaco)…
You don’t really appreciate the difference in styles between different countries until you experience them – in Spain we played very good, patient football on the ground but when I played in England, it was a quick transition from attack to defence; it was difficult to keep up.
In my opinion, Spain was the best league for me and my style of play but the atmosphere in the Premier League was absolutely incredible and I’ll always remember my time there because of the crowds. How passionate the fans were – it was an amazing thing. I remember losing a game and the fans consoled the team, whereas the crowds in Italy would berate and criticise you. Unfortunately, Serie A as a league is not what it was 25-30 years ago, it’s secondary to a lot of divisions it was once vastly superior to.
Raducioiu on West Ham and following the Premier League…
It has been a long time since I played in the Premier League. At West Ham I had problems with my manager, Harry Redknapp, when I arrived, then I quickly returned to Spain with Espanyol, so my experience of English football was very short-lived. But since then many things have changed in the league, which I still consider to be the most beautiful in Europe. The football is more technical, played at greater speed – it’s incredible to behold.
Looking back on it now, I have a lot of regrets because West Ham invested a lot of money in me and I couldn’t live up to that price tag, largely down to my relationship with the manager. We couldn’t communicate and I found it very tough to impose myself physically on the league, as the football I had been used to was completely different.
As a player, you are frustrated when you don’t play, so when Redknapp put me on the bench I didn’t accept it. Unfortunately things just didn’t work out and I decided to go back to Barcelona. I know some West Ham fans regard me as one of the worst players in their history, so of course it was a disappointing period in my career.
I’m pleased to see how far West Ham have come this year with Slaven Bilic, an ex-teammate of mine. I think very highly of him as a man and have good memories of him as a player. Bilic is a stern boss and the work he has done with his current squad is fantastic.
Raducioiu at Romania at Euro 2016…
Personally, Euro 96 wasn’t a great experience as we lost all three games and gave a poor account of ourselves on the continental stage. The best thing for me was the goal I scored against Spain, but, ultimately, it was irrelevant.
Romania come into Euro 2016 as a team without expectations and hopefully they can do better than we did 20 years ago. However, I think we lack a true leader who could carry the team, an attacker who causes the opposition problems. You really need a high-quality striker who can score a goal out of nowhere when you’re playing against strong teams.
My idea of football today, since so much has changed in the last decade, is that the teams with the most experience, whose players are used to playing at a high level and under pressure, will be successful.
Romania just don’t have these kinds of players to compete with the very best.
I’d say our best player is Vlad Chiriches but he’s not playing enough at Napoli. Our players don’t get enough game time at the top level any more like we did ahead of previous Euros, with the likes of Gheorghe Hagi and Dan Petrescu.
I try to remain optimistic about my country but the truth is we’ll do well to qualify for the knockout stage.
Without trying to provoke a reaction, I think the group stages of the tournament will be a bit boring. This tournament will be like the Champions League, beginning in the second round when the best teams in the tournament face each other.
Raducioiu on England’s chances…
England are a very young, interesting team.
They have discovered some players this season who have been incredible, like Jamie Vardy and Dele Alli. I think England should reach the quarter finals at the least, but I hope they’re able to go further.
Key Man: Vlad Chiriches
Prediction: Group Stages