Best Romanian Players in the Premier League History

Romania have been a competitive force in world football at times, and they were particularly strong in the mid-1990s. That’s the time when we saw a host of Romanian international footballers move to top teams in Europe, and many arrived in the Premier League.

Some enjoyed success, while others didn’t quite replicate their best form in the English top flight. Here are the best Romanian players to feature in the EPL.

Best Romanian Players in the EPL history

Dan Petrescu

Defender Dan Petrescu became a popular figure during five years at Chelsea. He was such a legend at the Blues, that it’s easy to forget that this wasn’t his first English club.

Petrescu signed for Sheffield Wednesday from Genoa in 1994, and his displays at Hillsborough led to the Chelsea deal. While at Stamford Bridge, the Romanian international became a reliable figure in the Chelsea defence. Dan Petrescu won four major trophies at Chelsea including the FA Cup in 1997. He later played in England for Bradford City and Southampton.

Dan Petrescu
Dan Petrescu

Florin Raducioiu

While striker Florin Raducioiu was one of the most talented players Romania has produced, it’s fair to say that English fans didn’t see the best of him. He joined West Ham United on loan from Espanyol in 1996, but played just eleven league games for the Hammers.

Raducioiu scored three goals in his spell, but a falling out with manager Harry Redknapp meant he was sent back to Espanyol. Florin Raducioiu won major honours at previous club AC Milan, but couldn’t deliver in the EPL.

Adrian Mutu

Another talented Romanian striker, Adrian Mutu, enjoyed a slightly longer stay in England, although his spell also ended in unhappy circumstances. The forward joined Chelsea from Parma in 2003, with a reputation as a physical attacker, and a healthy goals ratio at his former clubs.

Mutu made some important scoring contributions at Stamford Bridge, but personal problems led to a breach of contract issue. Adrian Mutu left Chelsea in 2004, after just 36 games and ten goals across all competitions.

Adrian Mutu
Adrian Mutu

Ilie Dumitrescu

Creative midfielder Ilie Dumitrescu was among several Romanians to impress at the 1994 World Cup. His displays at the tournament persuaded Tottenham Hotspur to sign the player from Steaua Bucharest in a £2.6 million deal.

Dumitrescu was an attacking midfielder, but the Spurs side of the time lacked balance. They needed to tighten up defensively and the Romanian was sidelined as a result. He showed flair at times, but was moved on after playing 18 games and scoring four goals for Spurs. Ilie Dumitrescu also had a brief spell with West Ham United, before finishing his playing career back at Steaua Bucharest.

Gheorghe Popescu

Ilie Dumitrescu was joined at White Hart Lane for a while by his Romanian international teammate Gheorghe Popescu. A versatile player who could cover many areas across the pitch, Popescu was signed by Tottenham from PSV Eindhoven in 1994.

He played for just one season in England, but was a dependable player who scored some important goals, including a winner against old rivals Arsenal. The lure of a transfer to Barcelona at the end of 1994/95 proved too good to refuse and Gheorghe Popescu moved on.

Viorel Moldovan

Viorel Moldovan follows a theme among players on this list. He was a Romanian striker with immense talent, but English football fans didn’t get to see the best of him. Moldovan arrived at Coventry City from Grasshoppers Zurich in 1998, but he featured in just 14 matches for the Sky Blues.

He showed signs of his best form, but Moldovan was moved on to Fenerbahce after scoring two goals in those 14 games.

Costel Pantilimon

Along with Dan Petrescu, Costel Pantilimon is the only Romanian footballer to enjoy genuine success in England. He’s also the only player on this list to win the Premier League. Pantilimon was signed by Manchester City in 2011, and was brought into the club as a backup goalkeeper.

His appearances in the league were limited, although City did use the stopper as first choice in domestic cup games. Pantilimon played in just seven Premier League games for Manchester City, but his list of trophies includes two EPL titles and an EFL Cup. He left to become first choice at Sunderland, and Costel Pantilimon also featured in the Premier League for Watford.

Gabriel Tamas

A central defender, Gabriel Tamas played for three English league teams. His longest spell came with West Brom, where he played between 2010 and 2013. Tamas also played for Watford and Carditt City.

He was a journeyman player, but was highly thought of at national level, and Gabriel Tamas earned 61 caps for the Romanian senior side.

Final Thoughts

There are two standout players in terms of winning trophies here, but all of the men on this list contributed to English football.

None of the names are current, but hopefully, that situation will change in the near future, and more Romanian international players will join the Premier League.