Romania mourns Ilie Balaci

Romanian football is in mourning after the death of two-time player of the year Ilie Balaci, who has passed away aged 62.

Former Romania midfielder Ilie Balaci has passed away
Former Romania midfielder Ilie Balaci has passed away ©Agerpres

Ilie Balaci, one of Romania's most celebrated football talents, has passed away at the age of 62.

Nicknamed the Blond Miracle, Balaci spent the majority of his professional career with Universitatea Craiova, where he excelled as a creative midfielder between 1973 and 1984. Overall, he helped the club clinch three league titles and four Romanian Cups, as well as reaching the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup in 1982/83.

Balaci was first capped by Romania while still only 17 in 1974 and went on to make 65 appearances, scoring eight goals. He was named Romania's player of the year in 1981 and 1982, but was forced to retire through injury at the age of 31, after which he turned to coaching.

As well as taking charge of old club Universitatea Craiova on two occasions, he held posts in a number of countries including Morocco, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

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