ON THE FOOTBALL PITCH
I used to be a child like many others, who after school hours could not wait to throw away his schoolbag and play football until late in the evening anywhere possible. It was a time when Romanian football had models to follow with players who were honoring the country on the nationally and internationally.
Raised by grandparents, following the premature death of my parents, I was always protected, not being part of a family with a sports tradition. It was a beautiful, but difficult childhood, with huge sacrifices made by my grandparents to ensure the minimum necessary.
Therefore, the first contact with organized football came quite late, at the age of 13, at the Progresul Timisoara club, where the keen eye of Prof. Dorel Mascovescu found me in the school yard in the Fratelia neighborhood, during a typical hour of sports, where I usually played football with my classmates.
I remember that just to get to the Progresul training base I had to change two trams, and it would take at least one hour to get there, plus almost 2 hours of training, plus the way back to the house for another half hour. Basically I left home at 7.30 in the morning and returned at 7 or 8 in the evening. All by myself, without anyone to accompany me or wait for me after training, regardless of whether it was hot or cold outside, sun or rain.
My dream was, that one day I would get to play in Italy, of course it was a secret thought but I kept it hidden in the depths of my soul and whenever I could, I tried to copy his executions on the pitch in the back of the school or at the Progresul training base near the East Railway Station.
This was my first impact with football, in a generation that already had many years together and where I discovered that I had a lack of a solid "foundation" to help me deal with "adult" football once my junior year was over. Time and time again, until I was 18, I went to Poli Timisoara, which was the city's flagship club but also to CFR Timisoara, a club with a long tradition in Romanian football, making sacrifices to follow my greatest passion, football.
During all this time, at school I kept myself at a medium level, I had my pride, being among the first was difficult, considering the effort I was making, but I did not want to be among the last in class.
At the age of 18, I was co-opted into the ASU Politehnica Timisoara senior team, at that time a team that consisted of young players, and who played in the 4th league in Timis county. I played there for two years, in the second year I won and promoted in the 3rd league, in which year I scored some goals which in the end proved to be important in the equation of promoting to the 3rd league.
It was a time of change, because despite the successful season, I realized that in order to become a professional football player, I need many more qualities, which due to the fact that I started football late, and having no one to support and guide on the sports side, it was almost impossible for me.
Overall, as a player I can I had good technique, but not speed, willing to sacrifice for the team but with not that many physical and tactical qualities, without which it is difficult to play football at a performance level. Starting at the age of 13, without special native qualities, it turned out that it was not enough if I wanted to become a professional player.
- UEFA A Coaching License
- Bachelor Degree in Sports Science
FROM A FOOTBALL PLAYER TO A COACH
I decided to continue my studies at the Western University of Timisoara at the Faculty of Physical Education and Sport, having the ambition to follow studies in a domain that I loved and made many sacrifices.
It was at that moment when I was playing sports, in the autumn of 2000, that a person offered me the chance to "play" with some children at his private club. That person was Miroslav "Mima" Giuchici. A legend of Timisoara football, he was known to every man from Timisoara, at that time he was running his own private club Srbianka Giuchici, a club where he had the most talented children at that time in Timisoara. It was all fun and games at first, shortly falling in love with what I was doing and being in the midst of some young people that I looke at as my younger brothers, considering I was only 20 years old. It was a very simple but beautiful period, where besides the volcano Mima, from which I can say that I "stole" a lot of the tricks of being a coach, I also had quality colleagues, who helped me enormously at first, and here I can not fail to mention "Horo 'Nichici, Adi Setu and Cristi Safta.
During the same period, I decided to enroll at the Federal School of Soccer Coaches, within the RFF. I wanted to have all the knowledge, the faculty was not enough for me, I was eager to learn as much as possible, day by day I became more ambitious to learn and I put into practice what I've learned to the groups I lead.
The years passed, but as time went by, a desire and an ambition for me to move on grew, I felt that I had more to learn and was determined to make sacrifices to achieve my childhood dreams. Through a childhood friend, who went to Italy, in the year 2005 the opportunity arose to get there on a short vacation. With a conversation guide which in two months I learned it by heart, I left for the place that would later, mark my career. In the north of Italy the opportunity to meet a sports director came up, who later offered me the first chance at a football I dreamed of as a kid.
This is how I joined the AC Fiume Calcio football club, which today became the satellite of the second league club Pordenone Calcio, a club with a tradition in Friuli Venezia Giulia. 4 extraordinary years, during which I was appreciated and loved by all those who worked with me. There I trained 2 groups of children, one of 15 years and another of 10 years, which helped me to perfect my language and adapt to a foreign country, with an enviable football culture. Being an active coach there in 2006, the year Italy became the world champion, made me really proud of what I had achieved. I remember with pleasure how people took a dip in the fountain in the middle of the city, it was an indescribable holiday.
At that time, in the spring of 2009 football in Timisoara was led by Marian Iancu and Gheorghe Chivorchian grew to become feared by the big names of Romanian football. I always read the Romanian press, even if I was far away. At that time Timisoara football was on an upward slope, the investments made me give in to the first phone call received from the flagship football club in Banat, and without hesitation at that time, I made a decision with my heart, not with my head. I made the decision to return to Timisoara, my hometown, and to contribute to creating something sustainable. At that time there were important investments in the football academy of the Poli football club, with many players being brought from other areas of the country, so a favorable climate for performing was there. The team I took over was the one born in 1995, at that time U14. It lasted two years, at the end of the 2010-2011 season, I decided to leave the club following the scandal regarding the track record and the decision that the minimum conditions for performing are no longer met.
Next season, thanks to a friendship with a renowned Italian junior team coach, by the name of Ernesto Nani, I got to do two experiences that forced me to have the opportunity to observe three famous football academies for a few months and here I can mention, SEFA-Chelsea FC academy from England, VFB Stuttgart from Germany and Udinese Calcio from Italy. Experiences that have made me open my horizons, and understand differently the concept of football, having the opportunity to closely observe the work at the junior level of these clubs that year by year make growing and promoting young players a tradition.
Deep inside, I had a desire to do something in my hometown where it all started, so together with two close friends, I decided to go big. So, in 2012 the project of the International Football School was born, in a location on the outskirts of Timisoara, a suitable place for such activity. After different difficulties encountered during the first year, and in conjunction with the offer to be part of an ambitious project in Italy, after a brief analysis I decided to leave the club technically in the hands of a good friend and coach, Loredan Dohan.
For me, returning to Italian football at the end of 2013 was a further step to be part of a system that actually shows the fruits of labor today. The South Academy of Atalanta Bergamo club, named for Katane Soccer's bureaucratic motives, was a destination that enriched my knowledge and brought me a maturity and recognition of the qualities at the level of Italian youth football. The position of technical coordinator over the whole junior center and coach of the group of 17 year old, brought me personal satisfaction. A simple Romanian, who gets to be in a foreign country, and not anywhere but in Italy, where football is a religion to be respected and appreciated for being in a leading position over local coaches, some even professional footballers with names in peninsula football.
Almost 4 years, which are irreplaceable, where no one keeps you a day without proving that you deserve to be made me be respected, I was considered one of theirs and all this just because of the work done, without I expect nothing from anyone, on the contrary always trying to overcome myself. Atalanta Academy, is an industry that helps children become not only good footballers, but prepares you for life. Transparency in the relationship with parents, coaching philosophy, support for children, permanent training of coaches are the strengths of a unique project in Italian football, and which I consider proud to have been a part of.
My success on the Sicily island is due to the unconditional support of few really special people and I will mention here Gaetano Riolo and his family (the best President), Maurizio Pellegrino (special person and a really professional coach with experience in Seria A and B, which with his advice helped me to go through many delicate moments), Gaetano Iazzetti (one of the best sport manager from Sicily and after we became really good friends, a man with really good heart and amazing teammate) and Claudio Lucchini (definitely a top sport director in Italy). And of course all my colleagues, coaches with high quality, hard workers, positive and open minded people.
The experience accumulated at the junior level, brought me in the summer of 2017 the opportunity to go to another continent. Asia is a mysterious land for many and at the same time, for me, a coach who always likes challenges that at first seem impossible, I accepted, not without thinking much, leaving a part of my soul on the peninsula together with the work done for almost 4 years.
In Asia, a football project between two countries like China and Indonesia seems hard to believe. But it was something incredible, the same job as a technical coordinator over approx. 50 coaches of different nationalities, age groups from 5-18 years, but at the same time coach of the club's senior juniors. At the same time, I was invited as a Methodist within the Chinese Football Federation, to teach theoretical and practical lessons to future Asian coaches, they made me enrich my knowledge, because sharing our knowledge with others actually improves ourselves.
Culture different from that of Europe, different lifestyle, metropolises that seemed to never end.
And me, a simple Romanian man, from the outskirts of Timisoara, without being a professional footballer, without anyone in the back "pushing" me to the spotlight.
For some it may not seem like much, for others maybe it is, what is important is that for me all these experiences helped me become the person of today, appreciated and respected in different areas of the world, mentality it made me a winner who can sit at the table or on the pitch with any junior coach from any country in the world without feeling inferior.
Being in the midst of children is the greatest joy, and I can say that regardless of whether they were Africans, Asians or Europeans, the common passion made us go through some delicate moments, which in football do tend to appear, but this has strengthened us and made us reach our common goals.