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PROFILE Time for Mutu to deliver

Sunday 11th November 2001

Cosmin Contra stole the headlines on October 21 when his searing drive from the edge of the area put AC Milan ahead against Internazionale in the derby.

The Romanian turned the game after coming on as a second-half substitute and the Rossoneri ran out 4-2 winners.

But his exploits overshadowed the achievements of fellow international Adrian Mutu, who on the same day was performing an about-turn of his own at the other end of Serie A - with Verona.

Mutu, who many expected to be shown the door following the arrival of Alberto Malesani in the summer, scored a goal against Fiorentina to match that of his countryman.

Picking the ball up on the left, he jinked inside before firing an unstoppable bullet from outside the box into the top of the net.

Like Contra, Mutu's strike was the pointer for victory, but unlike the coveted Milan defender, Mutu is only now delivering on the promise that prompted Verona to shell out £4.5 million to Inter in the summer of 2000.

His time in Milan had been spent largely on the bench and Mutu was the first to admit that his lack of opportunities to shine among the stars at the San Siro set his development back.

"Verona is a step down and will not help me progress as a player," he fumed shortly after signing.

That attitude pre-empted a torrid first season at the Bentegodi, which he spent at loggerheads with coach Attilio Perotti and, more often than not, his own team-mates.

His anger was evident from his first match for the Gialloblu against Bari, when he threw his shirt to the floor after being substituted in the first of his public clashes with Perotti.

Their relationship soured as the season progressed and Mircea Lucescu suggested he join him at Galatasaray to regain his confidence.

"But I didn't want to leave," Mutu explained. "I still had something to say in Italy and plenty of debts to pay Verona. At the beginning, I was still in shock at having to leave Inter.

"I never understood why they hadn't given me more of a chance before selling me, why they didn't have more faith in me."

Indeed, Mutu suffered a crisis of confidence after failing to score at the San Siro and finished his first campaign at Verona with just four goals. Few fans expected to see him back this season.

Malesani, however, had other ideas. And so did Mutu.

"Adrian is now a completely changed player," the coach said. "He is very ambitious, he works very hard in every training session and he has become the club's inspiration.

"When I arrived at Verona, a lot of people came to me and told me to send Mutu as far away as possible, because he was the sort of player capable of destroying the atmosphere in the dressing room with all his complaints.

"But I decided not to listen and to find out for myself. I discovered a very nice, polite, well-educated man ready to prove his worth."

Mutu has done just that, astounding critics in Romania and Italy with his dramatic renaissance. Goals against Parma and Perugia, another spectacular strike, have seen Mutu almost match last season's tally with only nine games played.

"Now I am completely over the shock [of leaving Inter] and ready to perform great things for Verona," he said.

Mutu has also shed his "selfish" tag with double the number of assists this season as goals scored.

And on November 4 he gave Malesani and Romania coach Gheorghe Hagi further cause for optimism with another mesmerising display, turning Igor Tudor and Lilian Thuram inside out as Verona came close to toppling Juventus.

Mutu played a part in both goals as Verona stole into a surprise 2-0 lead. First his goalbound header was punched out, only for Leonardo Colucci to knock home the rebound.

Then, 17 minutes into the second half, Mutu broke down the left and crossed low with the outside of his right foot for Mauro Camoranesi to score at the far post.

Now, with Romania 2-1 down from the first leg of their World Cup play-off against Slovenia, Hagi has called on his offensive midfielder to start reproducing his club form on the international stage - to earn his country a place in the World Cup finals.

"I am very content with how well he is doing for Verona, but he must save some of his goals for Romania and help us qualify," Hagi said.

"It is time for him to make his name the first I put on the team-sheet and he will do that with a match-winning performance against Slovenia. Mutu has come on enormously. Now Romania needs him."

In the first leg in Ljubljana, Mutu was at the centre of Romania's brazen start to the match. Playing behind Marius Niculae and Adrian Ilie, he provided the link between attack and midfield as Romania peppered the home goal.

Only a string of missed chances by the front two kept Romania from going into the break with a commanding lead.

In the second half, Mutu was angered by the decision of referee Kim Milton Nielsen not to award him a penalty after he was clattered to the ground by defender Marinko Galic.

"I beat two players and then turned with the intention to put the ball beyond Galic as well, but he put his knee in front of me and after the contact all I knew was that I was down," he said.

Mutu will hope his luck, like Romania's, is due a change in the second leg. His greatest asset is his tight ball control and desire to run at defenders. And more of the same in Bucharest could turn the tie in favour of Hagi's side.

Mutu has struggled to find the net himself at international level, scoring just once in a friendly against Croatia in his 13 appearances since making his debut in March 1999 against Greece.

But then scoring was never his forte. Mutu broke into the national side as a left winger and was only moved into the middle by then-coach Laszlo Boloni, who had been deprived the services of Viorel Moldovan and Ionel Ganea.

He cemented his place during Euro 2000, starting the tournament on the bench before making his breakthrough in the 3-2 victory over England and keeping his place for the quarter-final defeat by Italy.

Now, for the first time, Mutu is feeling the weight of expectation. He should also feel capable of rising to the challenge.

Nicknamed Briliantul - the brilliant - from his time at his first club FC Arges Pitesti, Mutu was once known as much for his glamorous girlfriends and party lifestyle as he was for his football.

He joined Dinamo Bucharest in the summer of 1998 and 18 goals in 18 games in the first half of the 1999-2000 season convinced Internazionale to spend £1 million on the promising youngster, who was also a target for PSV Eindhoven.

Hagi gave Mutu away at his wedding to Alexandra and he credits both his coach and wife for his change in attitude this season and consequent upswing in fortune. "My marriage and my good season with Verona have helped me to mature enough to understand that I must continue on this path," he said.

"I am not the same person I was in the past. I was too young and full of life, but now I understood that without hard work it is impossible to win anything."

Mutu, more than anyone, knows that the time has come to deliver. "We dream of being in Japan and South Korea next summer and we know that only in our feet is there the power to get through," he said.

"Nobody more than me wants to score against Slovenia and see Romania qualify." One goal could be enough. And Mutu knows a nation is relying on him.
 

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Intersting article, but the problem is this:

Before every national team game everyone starts saying that Mutu is going to score finally. And all but one game he's played for the national team he was held scoreless. His only goal came in his first apperance for the senior team.
 

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Bai Mutule! Fi si tu un briliant my destept si baga niste goluri contra Slovenilor!

Mutu might be a bit fettered by the fact that in the Natl team he plays a different position then at Verona..anyway I hope he will make us all proud. HAI ROMANIA!!!
 

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There are rumors on calciomercato saying that Juventus, Parma and Lazio have made each a $ 14 mil. bid or more for Mutu.

I really do not care. Actually, the next time Mutu should be given another chance in the NT should be in the next useless freindly. I don't care how pathetically much he wants to score on Wednesday, he should mind his own business in Serie A until the next useless freindly will arrive. I've read in ProSport today that a fan was saying that Mutu lost like 80% of the balls. He's perfectly right. Also, as picture of the day in ProSport was a picture with Hagi and Mutu on the Slovenian pitch and Hagi was looking like he was trying to wake up Mutu and then the title: 'Wake up, Mutu!". Even in today's columns, were pretty good, Mutu was criticized a lot - he got what he deserved.

HAI ROMANIA!
 

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Yah read the article David, Mutu's saying how he was young and full of life (AKA horny for Alexandra Dinu)... etc. And how he now knows what it takes to be a pro.

Well if he better damn well score on Wednesday if he wants to gain a few million fans. I bet if he scores the winner to put us through the WC, more clubs will go after him.

But then again, it's all up to him
 

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David, I´ll say it again, I was with you about Mutu in Budapest, but I didn´t see him so weak in Ljubljana! He didn´t play very good, but not very bad eighter. For me Ilie was very much weaker than Mutu in Ljubljana (in fact I think he had to be replaced at halftime)!
And about statistics, here something else: statistics from match Ucraine-Germany says, that Sheva has lost EVERY (8) of his one-to one duels against any german player he met on his way (even O. Kahn ...)!!! So what? Sheva out for second leg in Dortmund??? Come on keep seriously and stay:cool:
And about press and supporters in "prosport"-forum: I am really wondering why many of them are so cruel with the team and with Hagi! Romania made their absolutely best game I`ve seen in the last years!!! And if Ilie, Contra and the ref had not made this individual mistakes, score had be about 4-1 and everybody would have praised Hagi and the new "winner mentality" of romanian NT! You and many other romanians are very unfair IMO! Hagi seems to have inspired the team something Romania never had: personality! So, normally they have to qualify tomorrow. In fact I´m convinced they can fail it only for psichological reasons! And that´s for it´s a huge mistake made here by many romanian supporters and newspapers!
But (allthough at the beginning I have to admit I had serious doubts of Hagi´s abilities to be a real good coach!) now I´m quite sure he is the only guy who can manage this particular situation!

GO HAGI, GO ROMANIA!:lazy: :) :heart:

PS: See my signature ...
 

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Hai Hagi!!! Hai Mutu!!! Hai Romania!!!

see Thomas, I am not down on either Hagi or Mutu..I agree with your post, well said.
 

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Wicked post Thomas, the one thing I always wanted for them to come out and play the same way all the time, with personality. Hagi seems to have got it for the first leg from our players, but the finishing wasn't there. I think in Romania however I think it's going to be a different story. Our boys must be angry and an agry team IMO is a good team, we'll win all the pyshical battles and with the support of a SEA OF YELLOW we'll suceed.

HAI ROMANIA, PINA LA MOARTE !!
 

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EclipsE said:
Thomas, wicked = misto.
Thank´s for translation. See, those expressions I didn´t learn at school and my dictionary told me only "rautacios":eek: I ´ve said it all the time, surfing in the net is just something like never stop learning:D
 
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