The club STEAUA is no longer a Romanian brand any more, but a respected name in the world’s football hall of fame for more than a couple of decades. Steaua is arguably regarded worldwide as the representative club team of Romania.
FC STEAUA BUCURESTI was founded following to a decree signed off by Mihail Lascar on the 7th of June 1947, on behalf of the National Ministry of Defense of Romania. In the summer of 1946, a few generals and high officers of the Romanian Army were seriously considering starting up a military club and an Army’s football team. A few months later, in the spring of 1947, their endeavors led to the formation of the so called ’Sports Association of the Romanian Army’.
The first leader of the football team was also its skipper, Stefan Septville and the newly emerged team had its first ever training camp. Despite the fact the new team had to take a play off for promoting to the second Division, it was brought up to the top Division, as a replacement for the team Carmen, which was excluded form the top football of Romania. The first coach of the team in its first season in the top Division was Coloman Braun-Bogdan.
Soon the team was named CCA and won its first ever domestic title in Romania in 1951, under the helmet of Gheorghe Popescu, one of its honorary founding members.
Between 1951 and 1961, CCA won 5 more domestic titles, till its name was changed to STEAUA, in the summer of 1961.
What did STEAUA bring as an innovation to Romanian football?
Steaua has always promoted the skillful, free flowing and spectacular football, played at an amazing pace, which brought the nickname ’The Speedsters’ for the mid 80’s team . That STEAUA team became the first ever Eastern European club to win the highest trophy of the European Football, the ’Cup of the European Championships’ (or UEFA Champions League as it is known today).
In the 1990’s, our club’s team won the domestic championship of Romania for 6 times and represented the country 3 times in a row in the UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE competition.
(In dark contrast to our Bucharest archrivals, Dinamo,) Our club has always fought tooth and nail against the so called ’Cooperativa’, an association of clubs which allegedly fixed games towards the mutual benefit of all the parties involved and brought a poor reputation to Romanian soccer in Europe, especially after the communism was abolished in our country (December 1989).
All together, STEAUA BUCURESTI trophy cabinet is by far the richest in the country, as our team won 23 domestic titles, 20 National Cups and 5 Romania’s Supercups.
The Europeans Champions’ Cup- the big hit of STEAUA in 1986
On the 7th of May STEAUA very deservedly wrote its major piece of history. A year before, when our football needed mostly, a brand new team was born, destined to become a year later the Queen of the European Football: STEAUA BUCURESTI.
In the summer of 1985, coaches Emeric Ienei and Anghel Iordanescu made up a team, with a few young players, a few experienced ones, but all hungry for glory. That team made history for both our club and Romania. All of us should know this line-up by heart like a sweet piece of poetry: Duckadam, Iovan, Bumbescu, Belodedici, Barbulescu, T. Stoica, Boloni, Balint, Majearu, Lacatus, Piturca, Stangaciu, Weissenbacher, Balan, Pistol, M. Radu.
"Who are these Romanians’"
The sixteen players from above started the most successful yet campaign for the club on the 16th of September 1986, in the country of Prince Hamplet, denmark, again Vejle Bold Klub (including the former Barcelona player, Alan Simonsen). Our team put up a decent away performance and the game ended up with a hopeful 1-1 draw, M. Radu II being responsible for our goal that night.
A couple of weeks later, on our home ground, our team trashed the Danes, 4-1 and went through. This was the first maturity test for our rising ’star’ team.
Next came the champions of Hungary, Honved Budapest. The away game, on the 23rd of October 1985, was our team’s first defeat of the campaign, 0-1, despite a very attacking display from our players. Justice was done a couple of weeks later, when ’The Speedsters’ beat the Hungarian champions 4-1, much to the delight of a capacity crowd in Steaua stadium.
The next round STEAUA seemed to take a more approachable Finnish champion team, Kuusysi Lahti. The first game, played on our stadium on the 5th of March 1986, on a muddy pitch, ended up with a disappointing goalless draw and a warning about the strength and abilities of our opponents. In the away game, played on the Lahti stadium, with the prominent statue of the legendary athlete Paavo Nurmi watching from above, STEAUA won 1-0 and made the semifinals of the competition.
At this level now, we could not hope for an easy draw at all. When the strong clubs of Europe saw that STEAUA went already so far up in the contest, they raised their eye browses and asked themselves:’ Who are these mighty Romanians’’ The draw was made and the next name out of the hat for STEUA was the Belgian champions, Anderlecht of Brussells.
On the 2nd of April 1986, on the ’Constant van den Stock’ arena, a lucky 1-0 scoreline, through a 75th minute goal of Enzo Scifo, really flattered the home side. In spite of the final score, STEAUA played a game to be proud of.
On the next day, the headlines of ’Les Sports’ daily newspaper were:’ We have warned you, Anderlecht. You should have not overlooked the Romanian champions. Even though they do not have much history in Europe at the moment, as other dark horses like Bayern Munich and others, STEAUA played a very smart game on the Astrid park arena: they were able to impose their short passes game pattern, closed all the lanes to their box, played the game at their own pace, with a smile on their face, no panic and no complexes at all in front of their more illustrious opponents. Even the local crowd was delighted with their performance’.
The second game of the aggregate encounter really made its way into the golden book of our club history. On the 16th of April, in front of a boisterous 30000 capacity crowd, a dream came true: 3-0 to STEAUA and they booked a place in the Champions Cup final.
Sevilla 1986 ’ a landmark for our Club and for the Romanian football
Now STEAUA were regarded as the hot team of the European football, following their amazing run in this campaign. Only the simple act of presence, alongside FC Barcelona, for the most prestigious European Cup final in Seville, was above the wildest dreams of any Romanian fan.
7th of May 1986, stadium "Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan" in Seville, FC Barcelona- STEAUA Bucharest in the European Champions Cup final.
70000 fanatics of the richest club in the world at that time were ready for a ’fiesta’. None of them were even thinking their Spanish favorites will miss the chance in front of the king of Spain, Juan Carlos and his royal family. Sincerely, not even ourselves, glued on our TV sets in Romania, were expecting for too much, let alone to win the trophy. We just wanted STEAUA to put up a decent performance and go down in glory.
It was only our players and coaching staff who believed in their chance and played the game of their lives. They just confided in themselves, played and won, mere and simple. After a 0-0 in the normal time (we all thought that the scoreline might have been the same even if the game was played for the rest of the night), two halves of 15 minutes extra time followed and then the penalty shoot-out which STEAUA duly won, 2-0, goals from Balint and Lacatus.
After that game, STEAUA made its way into the history of the European football, just as its wonderful actors involved in the play. STEAUA also become the first European team from behind ’The Iron Curtain’ to win the ultimate European Clubs trophy.
Sevilla 1986 is still the landmark of our Romanian football, everything is reported to it even now. STEAUA win against Barcelona was also the dawning of a new generation of players, who starred for the ’Golden Generation’ of the Romanian national team.
The 7th of May 1986 will be the day to remember for all our STEAUA fans, the time when our golden boys produced the supreme satisfaction (we can hardly imagine to reproduce that now or in the near future) of winning the European Champions Cup.
At the moment Steaua Bucharest is Romania’s most famous football club team.