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Steaua hero relives magic of the cup

Published: Thursday 8 October 2009, 23.10CET
The goalkeeping hero of FC Steaua Bucureşti's 1986 European Cup triumph, Helmuth Duckadam, revealed the secret of his success when he got his hands on the trophy again in Bucharest last week.
by Paul-Daniel Zaharia
from Bucharest
Steaua hero relives magic of the cup
Helmuth Duckadam savours Steaua's moment of glory in Seville ©Bob Thomas/Getty Images features

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Published: Thursday 8 October 2009, 23.10CET

Steaua hero relives magic of the cup

The goalkeeping hero of FC Steaua Bucureşti's 1986 European Cup triumph, Helmuth Duckadam, revealed the secret of his success when he got his hands on the trophy again in Bucharest last week.

Former FC Steaua Bucureşti goalkeeper Helmuth Duckadam wrote his own page in the history of the European Champion Clubs' Cup when he saved four penalties in a shoot-out against FC Barcelona to decide a scoreless 1986 final in the Romanian side's favour. Here the 50-year-old recalls that famous night in Seville and describes the thrill of being reacquainted with the European Cup when it reached Bucharest this week as part of the UEFA Champions League Trophy Tour, presented by UniCredit. You are remembered for your penalty saves in the 1986 final. What are the most important things a goalkeeper needs to consider during a shoot-out?

Helmuth Duckadam: A goalkeeper has to forget everything that has happened and focus exclusively on the moment. He has to watch the penalty taker closely and try to read his mind and guess his intentions. After every training session I practised penalties with my team-mates, always trying to trick the taker by moving my body slightly in one direction. He would then shoot the opposite way, as I knew he would, and I would jump and save it. So that is the key to saving a penalty?

I would say so. It's essential to get into the shoes of the taker, to try and guess what he is thinking. If you manage that, you already have the advantage. Can you describe your thought processes during the 1986 shoot-out?

Duckadam: I wasn't interested in my team but focused exclusively on myself, on what I had to do. The first penalty was taken by their captain, Alexanko. I watched him closely and, judging from his body shape, felt he would shoot to my right. I waited for him to shoot and saved to my right. The other penalties were a question of psychology – putting myself in the position of the taker. The second was Pedraza, who perhaps thought that because I had already saved one to my right, I would go left. I knew what he was thinking because [Barcelona goalkeeper] Urruti had done similar – he saved our first penalty to his left from Majearu, then to his right from Bölöni. So what did I do? I went right again, knowing he would put it there, and saved it, even though it was the best of their penalties.

The third was the easiest – it was logical that the player would think a goalkeeper, having already saved two to his right, would now go left. So Alonso shot to my right and I saved, second-guessing him. Finally, the fourth and most difficult, because I really didn't know what to do. Do I go right again or change direction? I put myself in the position of Marcos. He would be thinking that this goalkeeper has saved everything to his right, so must have chosen his direction from the off and will not change. I realised then that he would shoot to my left and had already started in that direction when he took the shot. Can you envisage a Romanian club winning a European trophy again?

Duckadam: Not really, at least not in the near future. If a Romanian club can keep together a handful of players worth €8m to €10m then, yes, there would be a chance of them reaching a final. Until then, it is more important to win as many points as possible, to regularly have a team qualifying directly for the Champions League group stage. What did you think of FC Unirea Urziceni’s first two matches in the UEFA Champions League?

They were two good games which showed their potential. I don't think we should expect too much, but I think they can beat Rangers at home and maybe get one point from their remaining two away matches. They have already done well by drawing against Stuttgart [1-1 at home, after a 2-0 loss at Sevilla]. Unirea are a small team who managed through hard work and total commitment to win the Romanian title. Without a doubt, Dan Petrescu is the best Romanian coach. He is a consummate professional with an iron hand. There is total discipline there. Petrescu has also managed to motivate his players to play as well this season as last. That is very important. How have you felt bringing the European Cup to Romania for a second time as UEFA Champions League Trophy Tour ambassador?

It's a great honour that UEFA nominated me. I never thought I would get my hands on the trophy again. When I did, I felt something I cannot explain, but one thing is for sure – I am incredibly proud. Seeing on television the passion and money now involved, and the great players who fight for this trophy, we have to be proud that Steaua are one of the clubs to have won it.

Last updated: 29/01/12 3.23CET

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