Barça at the World Cup, Part 8: The Romanian stylists
Led by Hagi, the players dyed their hair in order to play the final game of the group stage
Gheorghe Hagi (Sacele, Romania, 1965)
During the 90s, the Romanian national team didn’t need much help to generate interest amongst the fans. Led by the talented Gheorghe Hagi, that generation earned respect from world football due to how well they played in the three editions of the World Cup held during the decade. In 1998, at the French tournament, the players surprised everyone when they walked out onto the pitch before the final game of the group stage against Tunisia with their hair dyed the same colour.
It was, in fact, a playful bet between the team's coach and the playing staff. The latter had committed themselves to dyeing their hair in the event of qualifying for the Round of 16, in return for the coach, Anghel Iordanescu, shaving his hair off. Wins in the first two games against Colombia (1-0), and England (2-1), ensured the Romanians qualified, which meant both players and coach fulfilled the promise. After a draw against Tunisia, thereby qualifying top of the group, the 'Tricolorii' couldn’t beat Croatia in a game that until today was the last that Romania played in a World Cup tournament.
Gheorghe Hagi, who is considered the best Romanian footballer of all time, and one of the best offensive midfielders in the 80s and 90s, played for FC Barcelona from 1994 to 1996, when he signed for Galatasaray. After that World Cup, Hagi announced his retirement from the national team, although he would return to play the European Championship in 2000. A year later, he retired as a footballer definitively. Then he began his career as a coach at teams such as Bursaspor, Galatasaray and the Romanian national team. Since 2014, he has been the coach and owner of Viitorul Constanta in the Romanian first division.