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Ever-ready Rădoi to kiss Steaua goodbye

Published: Friday 16 January 2009, 10.59CET
Mirel Rădoi may shed a tear as he leaves home after completing a record €6m move from FC Steaua Bucureşti to Saudi club Al-Hilal, saying: "It is sad to leave my team-mates, but there comes a time when you have to."
by Paul-Daniel Zaharia
from Bucharest
Ever-ready Rădoi to kiss Steaua goodbye
Mirel Rădoi blossomed into an iconic captain at Steaua ©Getty Images
Published: Friday 16 January 2009, 10.59CET

Ever-ready Rădoi to kiss Steaua goodbye

Mirel Rădoi may shed a tear as he leaves home after completing a record €6m move from FC Steaua Bucureşti to Saudi club Al-Hilal, saying: "It is sad to leave my team-mates, but there comes a time when you have to."

Mirel Rădoi may shed a tear as he leaves home after completing a record €6m move from FC Steaua Bucureşti to Saudi club Al-Hilal, saying: "It is sad to leave my team-mates, but there comes a time when you have to."

Record fee
The Steaua captain, 27, has signed a three-season contract with Al-Hilal after spending the last eight and a half years with the Bucharest giants. The €6m fee received by the club has easily broken their previous record for an outgoing player set when Gheorghe Hagi left the club for Real Madrid CF for the equivalent of €3.4m in 1990.

Modest assessment
The influential defensive player will be reunited with his former Steaua coach Cosmin Olăroiu at Al-Hilal, and said modestly: "I was not an outstanding player for Steaua. I was a normal one who did what he knew best and gave everything every time I went on the pitch. It is sad to leave my team-mates, but there comes a time when you have to."

Steaua honours
Few will begrudge Rădoi his chance of a lucrative move abroad, with the former FC Extensiv Craoiva player having failed to secure a dream move to a western European club earlier in his career. He leaves Steaua with three titles, two Romanian Super Cups and fresh from his third successive UEFA Champions League group stage appearance.

Battle scars
A model of absolute commitment, since 2004 he has suffered 13 injuries – six of them serious – which have conspired to sideline him for more than a year. His only regret is that he "did not play in the UEFA Cup final" after Steaua got as far as the semi-finals under Olăroiu in 2005/06. "We were so close," remembered Rădoi.

European appearances
Despite all those injuries, Rădoi managed to score 12 goals in 186 league appearances, and three more in 50 UEFA club competition games – only Marius Lăcătuş, with 71, represented Steaua more in Europe. Unsurprisingly, he also became a regular for Romania, with one goal in 49 caps, including an injury-blighted trip to UEFA EURO 2008™.

Golden opportunity
Given those statistics, Steaua owner George Becali was loath to deny the player a transfer, saying: "I wanted maybe €7m or €8m, but the Saudis wouldn't pay more than €6m, so I decided to let Mirel go to give him the chance to earn more." Rădoi has earned his move, then, but how Steaua will fare without their leader is a big issue he leaves behind.

Last updated: 16/01/09 19.20CET

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