Veteran Romanian playmaker Gheorghe Hagi, who played his last match for his country in the 2-0 Euro 2000 quarterfinal defeat by Italy on Saturday, said Monday he had been reduced to tears by negative criticism in his country's press.
Hagi contrasted his emotions on being recalled to the national side in a match with Hungary last year with his pain at being made the whipping boy for his country's exit at the last eight stage.
In a letter to all Romanians published in the press Hagi says: "On June 5, 1999 (the Euro 2000 qualifier with Hungary) I felt the greatest joy in my career with the Romanian team. Today (Monday) a year after that great joy the newspapers and journalists have reduced me to tears."
The 'Maradona of the Carpathians' railed against paper Adevarul, which had demanded Hagi 'to give a present to his teammates by not playing against Italy'.
That was because Romania had previously produced their best performance of the tournament in beating England 3-2 in a match where Hagi had been suspended.
But Hagi finished on an upbeat note, saying: "At the end of my time in the national team I would like to thank the fans, my teammates and the directors of Romanian football for the confidence they have shown in me" - (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)