Ioan Lupescu was and remains one of Romania’s best-known and most successful soccer players. The attacking midfielder represented his country at two FIFA World Cup finals (1990 and 1994) and two UEFA European championships (1996 and 2000).
In addition to playing for Dinamo Bucharest and Bayer Leverkusen, Ioan Lupescu played for the likes of Borussia Monchengladbach and Bayer Leverkusen. He also put in brief spells in Turkey and Saudi Arabia before qualifying as a coach and then taking up the post of Romanian FA General Director in 2005.
Speaking exclusively to the History Of Soccer, Lupescu recalled his favorite and most moving moments and talked about his activities since bringing down the curtain on his playing career. “The most memorable moments in my career were the debuts,” he said. “Appearing in the Romanian top flight at the age of just 17 was thrilling, as was my first international when I was 20 years old. And my first match in Germany, when Bayern Munich were the opponents, was unforgettable.”
Memories Of World Cups
Ioan Lupescu featured twice at the FIFA World Cup finals and retains plenty of fond memories of the global showdowns in Italy and the USA. “1990 was my first World Cup. I was 21, and we came up against Diego Maradona in Naples. That was overwhelming. There must have been 50,000 Argentinian fans in the crowd. Nevertheless, the team battled our way to a draw, which took us through to the Round of 16. It also opened the doors to western Europe for the team, and most of the players later ended up in Italy, Spain, or Germany. For me personally, the World Cup in Italy was the springboard to a career in the west.”
Ioan Lupescu was still an international regular when the next tournament came round four years later. Again, the Romanians excelled in the USA and fought their way through to the last eight. “The World Cup in America was a terrific tournament. At the time, we had a strong squad with lots of experience. We were unfortunate to go to Sweden in the end. However, it was a 3-2 victory over Argentina in the last 16 that was our best performance. That game will never be forgotten.”
Ioan Lupescu Early Career
Ioan Lupescu spent his first four years as a professional soccer player on home soil in Bucharest. He switched to the Bundesliga with Bayer Leverkusen after the 1990 FIFA World Cup. The likable and articulate player spent a total of eight seasons in Germany before returning to Dinamo Bucharest.
“Germany was and remains my second home,” he said. “I love coming to visit and watching the Bundesliga nowadays. My spell there really left its mark. Both in terms of the mentality and the highly professional approach to the game. Bayer Leverkusen was a very well-managed club, and the Gladbach supporters were unbelievable. I’m very proud of my time in Germany.”
The Romanian left the Bundesliga for a second time to play for his hometown club, Bursaspor, before moving to Al-Hilal in Saudi Arabia. “After my time in Germany, I went back to lend Dinamo Bucharest a hand, and we won the double in 2000. After that, I briefly went to Turkey but returned home again. Then, right at the end of my career, I wanted to try something new and spent six months in Saudi Arabia, where I played for Al Hilal. Finding my feet there wasn’t easy, but learning out about life in that part of the world was an important experience,” Lupo says.
As a player, Ioan Lupescu crossed swords with a number of the greats at the World Cup, the EURO’s, and European club competitions. But who was his most difficult opponent? “It’s hard to say,” Iona Lupescu mused. “Diego Maradona was unbelievable, although he wasn’t as strong in 1990 as in 1986. In the Bundesliga, I was impressed by Andreas Moeller. He was one of the best all-round players I’ve ever seen, and I’ve never understood why some sections of the footballing public never respected him.”
Where Is Ioan Lupescu Now?
He hung up his boots in 2003 after a distinguished international career. Ioan Lupescu, however, is fully immersed in the day-to-day business of professional soccer. “I studied to become a head coach in Cologne and spent eight months in that position but decided against it.” He tried his hand at managing FCM Bacau and FC Brasov for short periods but could not see a long-term career in the day-to-day pressure of this job.
“In 2005, I was offered the post of General Director at the Romanian FA. I really like that job, and it’s tremendous that I’ve now spent more than three years in the post. We’ve achieved a lot already, and we have big plans for the future,” the former international revealed. He now works as a UEFA’s technical observer making decisions of the future of the game.