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Cristian Chivu is looking forward to one of the biggest nights of his career, when he will lead Romania into their opening Group C fixture against France.
The FC Internazionale Milano defender was a callow youth making his way in the national team when Romania last reached the finals of a major tournament, UEFA EURO 2000™. Eight years later Chivu the man cannot hide his excitement at the prospect of helping his country back into the limelight. "It's always a great honour to captain your country but to lead your country into the finals of a tournament like this is something else," Chivu told euro2008.com. "It's been a long time coming for Romania but finally we have made it and we look forward to these games against France, Italy and the Netherlands. I was younger when we last played in the [UEFA] European Championship and there's more expectation on me and the other survivors of that team, but it's a challenge I'm looking forward to."
Chivu is expected to start in an unaccustomed midfield role and not his favoured centre-back berth, but wherever he plays the 27-year-old anticipates a tough match against the 2006 FIFA World Cup runners-up. "I've said before that centre-half is my preferred position but I have been playing this role for my country for a while and my manager [Victor Piţurcă] thinks I do a good job for the team," said Chivu. "The eleven players who start the match will all have to defend and all have to attack. That's what we did in qualifying and why we were so successful. And we hope to continue that here and now."
The players trained at the Letzigrund Stadion in Zurich on Sunday, including Adrian Mutu who is dealing with the death of his grandmother back in Romania. His colleagues are full of admiration for the bravery being shown by the ACF Fiorentina striker and his bereavement has made the Tricolorii all the more determined to take something from their meeting with Les Bleus. "He is a great player and he is a strong person inside which will allow him to overcome this setback," added Chivu. "He has proved this over the last two days with some excellent performances in training."
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