Rain of stars: Mourinho, Stoichikov and Rivaldo come to Bucharest for a fabulous match

Former great footballers Hristo Stoicikov and Rivaldo, winners of the Ballon d'Or in 1994 and 1999, respectively, will be part of the team of international stars against which the national team of the “Golden Generation” will perform in the retirement match scheduled for May 25 at the Arena National from the Capital.

Jose Mourinho, free of contract now, is expected in Bucharest. PHOTO: The Truth Archive

The announcement was made on Thursday, in a press conference, by former international Gheorghe Popescu.

We are extremely happy that without announcing any names from the team of international stars against whom we will play on May 25, 42,000 tickets have already been sold, a record for an event like this. Today we can offer some names of the stars who will play in Bucharest, among them are Nuno Gomes, Christian Panucci, Dida, Rivaldo, Jari Litmanen, Eric Abidal, Christian Karembeu and Hristo Stoicikov. So we have two 'Golden Ballons' so far coming to this match. And we still have names that we will announce in the next period. As for Rivaldo and Stoichikov I hope they have extra kilos… because a few weeks ago Rivaldo looked even better than when he was playing. Hristo has extra kilos, so that's good, but there will be a problem with Rivaldo. We didn't invite Kenneth Andersson (no – the author of the equalizing goal that sent the match between Romania and Sweden in the quarterfinals of the 1994 World Cup into extra time) because we would have risked being booed by the entire stadiumPopescu said.

He mentioned that the Portuguese technician Jose Mourinho will be the coach of the star team in the demonstration match at the end of May: “Mourinho has confirmed his participation, I can say now that 90% of the time he will lead the star team from the bench. I am going to go to London in the next period to talk more with him about this event“.

Gica Popescu.  PHOTO: The Truth Archive

Gica Popescu. PHOTO: The Truth Archive

The representatives of the “Golden Generation” will start training in anticipation of the game at the end of this month.

Starting from April 20 or 25, we will try to move, that is, train at the Arc de Triumf Stadium, so one month before the match. I hope that this month we won't have too many casualties in training, because we are no longer with engines like 20 years ago. I honestly would like to play in the middle, because if I'm going to be in defense I'll have all the free space and I'm not physically fit to run after Rivaldo or Nuno Gomes, who are in an extraordinary physical shape. But we will have a group of 24-26 players, so there will be changes. I'm glad that many of my former colleagues from the national team have lost weight recently, and this is proof that they want to look very good at this event“, emphasized Popescu.

In the opinion of the former captain of the national team, the match on May 25 will be the last of the “Golden Generation”.

I am very happy when I see so much interest in this match, but I saw how complicated it is to play anymore, when I reached 55-60 years old. Age forgives no one. We were such a beautiful and extraordinary generation, so I think we cannot reach a moment when the world laughs at us (no – on the field). So now we can still play such a demonstration match, but I personally won't be able to play anymore. So I think it will be the last match of the Golden Generation'”, said the former international, who announced during the conference the partnership with Superbet, the name of the betting company to be inscribed on the playing shirts of the “Golden Generation” team.

On May 25, 2024, the members of the “Golden Generation” will meet a selection of international football stars in a retirement match organized at the National Arena in the Capital. Gheorghe Hagi, Gheorghe Popescu, Ilie Dumitrescu, Florin Răducioiu, Ionuţ Lupescu, Bogdan Stelea, Miodrag Belodedici, Marius Lăcătuş and Florin Prunea are just a few of the great footballers who will wear Romania's shirt again.

The greatest performance of the Romanian national football team was the quarter-finals of the World Cup in the USA in 1994, when the “tricolors” lost on penalty kicks 4-5 against Sweden, after eliminating the world vice-champion in the round of 16 Argentina, with 3-2.