“We were the gods of Giulești. Only Sabău and Lupu could have played in the ’67 team. Pancu? It had two speeds, low and very low! ”

Article by Adrian Florea, Liviu Manolache – Posted Saturday, 11 June 2022, 10:51 / Updated Saturday, 11 June 2022 12:06

On June 11, 1967, Rapid drew in the last stage of the season in Ploiești, 0-0, and thus obtained the point it needed to win the title of champion for the first time. A long-awaited title that earned him a euphoria that is hard to imagine today.

  • Don’t miss other episodes #RETROGSP of collection

55 years after the first great performance of the white-cherries, Gazeta had a leisurely conversation with one of the most talented footballers who ever stepped on the grass in Grant, Emil Dumitriu.

Settled in Greece for decades, “Nichi” accepted the telephone conversation, confessing that he will always talk with great pleasure about Rapid, especially the ’67 generation.

Nichi Dumitriu, in Greece (photo: GSP archive)

Who stole Nichi Dumitriu’s gold watch

– Hello, Mr. Dumitriu! How do you do?
– Okay, thanks for the question. But on what occasion are you looking for me?

– June 11 marks five and a half decades since …
– From the first title, yes … What times! Has it been so long ?!

– How do you feel about the events of June 1967?
– Generally pleasant feelings, but not only.

– Can you detail?
– Well, maybe you know, in an earlier interview I stated that in the chaos created on the stadium in Ploiești, as soon as the referee blew the whistle at the end of the match, someone stole a gold watch that I had in my pocket. Some speeding fans were mad at me, why I revealed the theft, why I made them thieves and things like that. But I didn’t say anywhere that a speedster was the perpetrator. Dozens, maybe hundreds of spectators have entered our locker room since then, including Ploiesti residents. Only God knows who subtilized him …

The watch received a gift from Gheorghiu-Dej

– How did you get a gold watch in 1967?
– I had received it as a gift in 1962, after I had won the European Junior Under-19 Championship organized in Romania. The then head of state, Gheorghiu-Dej, had given it to me personally. It also had a very high value, it had cost about 5,000 lei. To realize what such an amount meant, in the 60’s my monthly salary was about 800 lei.

– Don’t you have fond memories with the fans?
– How not? Everything that happened during the title was something that can’t really be told in words. Believe me, such a great and sincere joy I do not know if I have seen before. And I’m almost 80 years old, I’ve seen enough in my life …

The Rapid Champion in 1967

– Let’s go back to the beginning of that season, which was not exactly successful. In the first four rounds you only got three points out of three draws. Did you think then that you could shoot at the championship?
– No, why talk nonsense? If I remember correctly, the draws were in the first three stages, then I lost in Craiova. People had started buzzing …

Alecsandrescu threatened the rapidists to abolish them!

– Then, suddenly, an 8-1 story with Poli Iași!
– It really was a fairytale match! And with a special story.

– You mean?
– After the first half, the score was only 1-0 for us. We had missed a lot of opportunities, myself included. During the break, Ion Alecsandrescu came to our locker room, who I think was the general secretary of the Federation. He started yelling at us, threatening us that he would destroy us if we gave him the match in Iasi! I don’t know where he came from.

– And?
– Frightened by threats, in the second part we did a show. It ended 8-1, but if I gave 12-13 goals to the Moldovans, no one would be surprised.

We didn’t get rich while we played. We had bonuses of 1,000 lei for every three victories obtained. But the boundless love of our fans did more than any bonus!

– Then you started the climb to the first position.
– That’s right, although there have been other wrong steps. I think it wasn’t until the spring of ’67 that I realized I could really shoot at the championship.

The first title at the time was given by the Federation, not the club. Normally, we should have received 5,000 lei each, but we only took 4,000. FRF told us he had no money. When I asked if it would be the same situation and if it would become the champion Star, Gică Popescu I, former striker of the red-blues who worked in the Federation, shouted at me: «Aren’t you ashamed ?! Be content with that! ”

Why didn’t Nichi Dumitriu drink a beer with Puiu Ionescu

55 years since the first title of Rapid »Nichi Dumitriu:“ We were the gods of Giulești.  Only Sabău and Lupu could have played in the '67 team.  Pancu?  It had two speeds, low and very low! ”

Puiu Ionescu and Nichi Dumitru (photo: GSP archive)

– What do you think was the advantage of that team? Because Rapid has had very good generations before, who could not take the title.
– First of all, the extraordinary value of the lot! Even though we were a handful of people, we carried the weight in 14-15 players, we were all very, very, very good in our positions. Secondly, we were really a family. That expression wasn’t a word in the wind. We were all brothers on the field, “dying” for each other when needed.

“But who was the best ‘brother’ for you?” The partner in the attack, Ion Ionescu?
– On the lawn, yes, he was, we got along perfectly. Although I can’t say that I had a special relationship off the field. Actually, to be honest, I don’t think I drank any beer with him. I didn’t go to the restaurant, with the families, as I did with others.

– Sounds weird, can you explain?
– Chicken was more withdrawn, weirder. He recognized her too. But that didn’t bother anyone. I understood him, and he understood us.

– You owe it to yourself to answer the question “Who was your best friend?”
– Viorel Kraus. Then, I had excellent relations with Dan Coe, and with Culae Lupescu, what else ?, with everyone. We were too few to make “little churches.”

Nichi, Tinel’s favorite

– How did you get along with coach Valentin Stanescu?
– Woe is me and me, what a man! Believe me, you couldn’t hate him! He may have had a bad mouth, but he had a heart of gold. Now you’re splashing, now you’re kissing!

– But as a coach?
– Excellent! Good in theory, good and motivate you. He also knew when to make a joke, and when to force the note to string us. He was the right man in the right place.

– Legend has it that you were his favorite football player.
“If that’s what the legend says, that’s how it was.” (has a lot of fun). He trusted me a lot, he even took me to a party where he participated with our great supporters, such as the late Gheorghe Dinică.

– In conclusion, can we say that the 1967 generation was the best in the almost 100-year history of Rapid?
– I can’t talk about the interwar generation, because I didn’t see it live and I could be wrong. But for the last 70 years, let’s say, we were definitely the gods of Giulești! Without false modesty, tell me if any Nichi Dumitriu has appeared in Grant! Or a Puiu Ionescu! Or a Dinu “Navel”, a formidable midfielder who did not receive a proper recognition!

On the night of June 11-12, 1967, I spent the morning with supporters at the Nord Hotel until morning. It was the coolest party ever!

“Don’t hurt me, everyone!”

– Rapid also won the title in 1999 and 2003, and in 2006 was in the “quarters” of the UEFA Cup. Didn’t you like any of those lots?
– I liked them a lot, but few, very few could have played in the ’67 team. I’m thinking of a Sabau, a Lupu, both brilliant footballers! Otherwise…

– Not even Pancu?
– Pancu ?! I don’t want to open controversy, but Pancu had two speeds, small and very small!

– Daniel Niculae? “Skin” Buga?
“You want to hurt me with everyone now … No, I told you, only Sabău and Lupu would have been in the group of the first champion. I know, you can accuse me of subjectivism, and I can’t prove it to you because it’s been so long. However, take my word for it: technical and human quality like the 1967 generation will rarely have the Rapid!

55 years since the first title of Rapid »Nichi Dumitriu:“ We were the gods of Giulești.  Only Sabău and Lupu could have played in the '67 team.  Pancu?  It had two speeds, low and very low! ”

Dănuț Lupu and Ioan Ovidiu Sabău (photo: GSP archive)

– What can you tell us about the current Rapid? Can he take the title again next year, when the club’s centenary will be celebrated?
– Honestly? I don’t really see how. The batch is quite “thin”. The differences from CFR, FCSB and Craiova are big.

Rareș Ilie is a fan

– In which department do they need purchases the most?
– Especially in the middle, that was the problem last year. And something needs to be defended. Săpunaru and Grigore have experience, they have value, but they are also 36, 37, 38 years old … It’s hard to take the championship when the best defenders are 38 years old!

– What do you think about the current team’s record?
– Who, Rare Elijah? I like it, you can’t help but like it. He’s smart, smart. However, even in his case, I want to see how he behaves in important games, such as those in the playoffs. In the play-out, with all due respect, you can’t make the right impression. Especially since this year were also the cases of Gaz Metan and Clinceni, which distorted the competition.

– In short, Rapid can only hope for a place in the top six next season.
“From what I’ve seen so far, I say so.” Sure, if strong purchases are made, with the support of fans, who knows ?!

Message to the speedsters

– Is Mutu the coach capable of making the long-awaited jump to the podium?
– I don’t know Mutu very well, but I think the team is more important, not the coach. Have you seen a great coach without great players ?! The reverse is possible.

– Thanks for the dialogue, and at the end, if you have anything to add …
“Thank you for looking for me!” One more thing I would like to say to my dear speedsters, of all generations, older or newer: I hope you will never forget the people who brought glory to this club! Whoever said that Rapid is an endless story was very right. And those who wrote the story deserve at least a pious memory. Come on Rapid!

June 11, 1967, 26th round, Division A Petrolul – Rapid 0-0

  • Oil: Sfetcu – Pall, Pahonțu, Gh. Florea, M. Mocanu – Juhasz, P. Dragomir – C. Oprișan, Șt. Roman, Al. Badea, C. Moldoveanu.
    Trainer: Constantin Cernăianu
  • Fast: N. Răducanu – N. Lupescu, I. Motroc, Coe, Greavu – C. Dinu, Jamaischi – Năsturescu, E. Dumitriu, I. Ionescu, Codreanu.
    Trainer: Valentin Stanescu
  • Referee: Atanas Stavrev (Bulgaria)

As shown by the top of the final standings in ’66 -’67

55 years since the first title of Rapid »Nichi Dumitriu:“ We were the gods of Giulești.  Only Sabău and Lupu could have played in the '67 team.  Pancu?  It had two speeds, low and very low! ”

The lot used by Rapid in ’66 -’67

  • Goalkeepers: Răducan Necula (24/0), Marin Andrei (3/0) Defenders: Nicolae Lupescu (26/1), Dan Coe (26/0), Ion Motroc (25/0), Ilie Greavu (25/0), Vasile Stefan (3/0), Savu Costea (1/0)
  • midfielders: Constantin Dinu (23/1), Constantin Jamaischi (21/2), Nicolae Georgescu (6/0)
  • Forwards: Emil Dumitriu II (26/12), Constantin Năsturescu (25/3), Teofil Codreanu (23/2), Ion Ionescu (22/15), Viorel Kraus (12/2), Alexandru Neagu (8/1), Paul Mitroi (3/0)
  • Coaches: Valentin Stănescu and Victor Stănculescu

Read other Rapid articles in category #Retro GSP:

RETRO GSP 50 years since a historic success of Rapid in Europe: 4-0 with Legia »Liță Dumitru was in the role of Nadia

RETRO GSP Ion Motroc # 85. Five things you probably didn’t know about the legendary leader of the first Rapid champion

RETRO GSP. 38 years since Rapid set the record for spectators in Ghencea! Anthological photos from a story derby

It’s been 49 years since Rapid swept Zoff and Altafini on foot. Boc: “That’s how we earned the right to see an almost porn movie in Warsaw!”