BUCHAREST (Reuters) - Romania great Gheorghe “Gica” Hagi turned down a lucrative offer to manage Saudi Arabia at the World Cup finals in Russia next year and reaffirmed his commitment to his club Viitorul Constanta, Romanian media reported.
The 52-year-old former attacking midfield maestro, who led Viitorul to their maiden Romanian league title last season, was approached by Saudi Arabia officials before the appointment of Argentine Edgardo Bauza as Saudi head coach in September.
Bauza was hired as coach for the 32-team tournament after negotiations with the side’s former manager Bert van Marwijk broke down.
Viitorul’s general manager Cristian Bivolaru told Digi Sport that offers for Hagi were still arriving at the club but the former Barcelona and Real Madrid player remained committed to the long term at the Constanta-based side.
Hagi, nicknamed “The Maradona of the Carpathians” and considered Romania’s all-time greatest footballer, founded Viitorul in 2009 and still owns the club, known for nurturing young talent in the Black Sea state.
Viitorul are fifth in the domestic league standings with 30 points from 18 matches, 10 points behind leaders CFR Cluj.
Reporting by Angel Krasimirov; editing by Clare Fallon