FIFA President congratulates Romania on men’s national team centenary

  • Today, 8 June, marks the 100th anniversary of Romania's men's national team debut

  • Romanian men’s national team has participated in seven FIFA World Cups

  • Gianni Infantino: "Romanian football has brought so much joy and happiness to millions of fans"

FIFA President Gianni Infantino has congratulated the Romanian Football Federation (FRF), who on Wednesday 8 June will celebrate the centenary of their first international men's football match, a 2-1 win over Yugoslavia in Belgrade in 1922.

"There is only one first international match, and, starting with a win on the road, you showed the world just how strong Romanian football was and what a strong role it would play in global football’s future,” says the FIFA President in his message.

"Throughout the years, Romanian football has brought so much joy and happiness to the millions of fans and supporters in your country and, as a [matter of] fact, all over the world, and I can only compliment you, all of you, for this,” he added.

Romania’s men’s national team can boast of having participated in seven FIFA World Cup™ tournaments in their history. Their best performance was at USA 1994, when they reached the quarter-finals.

"I’m sure that every football fan can remember the 1994 national team, captained by Gheorghe Hagi,” continued the FIFA President, remembering the figure of perhaps its most iconic player and one of the five players to have played more than a hundred games for Romania with 124 appearances. Dorinel Munteanu (134), Gheorghe Popescu (115), Răzvan Raț (113) and László Bölöni (102) are the others. "The Romanian Football [Association] shares with FIFA a dedication to developing football and to putting it at the service of society. With that in mind, I'm sure we'll have many more moments to celebrate our sport together," said Gianni Infantino in his congratulatory message.

The Romanian Football Federation has prepared a number of celebrations, which will take place on Friday 11 June when they face Finland at the Giulesti Stadium in a UEFA Nations League group game.

To mark the 100th anniversary, players will take to the field wearing a replica shirt of the one their forefathers wore on 8 June 1922. In addition, some of the country’s greatest historical players will be invited to the match and will receive a commemorative shirt as a gift. Romania's aim is to return to the world stage soon. Currently 48th in the FIFA Men's Ranking after the March 2022 update, the last FIFA World Cup they played in was at France 1998. Since then they have missed the last six, including the one to be played in Qatar this November and December.

To end that cycle, the work the FRF is doing with their youth categories is fundamental, with help, among others, from FIFA's Forward Programme. These include funding to support the implementation of VAR in top competitions - consisting of instructing Romanian top-league referees and replay operators to use the VAR system - and the funding of several editions of high-performance tournaments.

The aim of these tournaments was to facilitate the selection, formation and training of a new generation of players, to support the development of an improved selection pool for Romania’s representative teams.

Little by little, the first fruits are being harvested, such as the recent debut of Enes Sali with the senior national team. At the age of 15 years and 264 days, he became the youngest player to make his debut in November 2021, in a 2-0 FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ qualifying victory over Liechtenstein.