The Deer

With the Champions League final approaching, here’s a nostalgic look back to history:

“Only 25 men have ever played in and won a European Cup final for an eastern European team. Miodrag Belodedici is two of them. The Romanian libero, known as “the Deer” because of the elegance of his play, became the first player to win the trophy with two different clubs, which would make his story significant enough; what makes it remarkable is that between his two finals he was sentenced to 10 years in jail for treason.

These days, 25 years after his first European Cup and 20 years after his second, Belodedici is back in Bucharest, working with the national youth set-up. He is an oddly modest figure; when he suggested meeting in a sports bar before the Champions League ties one evening I was worried we might be besieged by fans, but in his simple black shirt and jeans and quiet manner there is nothing to suggest a celebrity, and we weren’t bothered by anybody at all. Yet behind the apparent ordinariness there is an iron resolve that led him to take an extraordinary risk.”

Read the full article about one of the most elegant defenders of all time here.

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