Romania mourns much-celebrated referee Rainea

Romanian official Nicolae Rainea, who oversaw the finals of a UEFA Cup, the 1980 UEFA European Championship and the 1983 European Cup, has died aged 81.

Nicolae Rainea oversees the EURO '80 final as West Germany's Horst Hrubesch celebrates in Rome
Nicolae Rainea oversees the EURO '80 final as West Germany's Horst Hrubesch celebrates in Rome ©Bob Thomas/Getty Images

Romanian football is mourning its best-known referee after Nicolae Rainea died this morning aged 81.

Over a career spanning 24 years, Rainea racked up a stellar list of matches as he became one of the most respected officials in the world. He retired in 1983 after adding the European Champion Clubs' Cup final to a CV that already included the UEFA Cup final second leg in 1978, and the 1980 UEFA European Championship final. No Romanian referee has bettered his compilation of three FIFA World Cups.

Born on 19 November 1933, Rainea played in the lower leagues until turning to refereeing in 1959. Within six years he was officiating at first division matches and he quickly made the FIFA list, in 1967. He oversaw three Romanian Cup finals and 267 top-flight games, while his international assignments also included the 1978 UEFA Super Cup second leg.

After hanging up his whistle aged 49 he remained in football as a referee observer and regional football association president. He later became an honorary member of the Romanian Football Federation (FRF) and an honorary citizen of the city Galati. He was decorated by two Romanian presidents, Ion Iliescu and Traian Băsescu.

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