Gheorghe "Gică" Popescu (Romanian pronunciation: [ˈɡe̯orɡe ˈd͡ʒikə poˈpesku]; born 9 October 1967) is a retired Romanian former professional football defender, former captain of FC Barcelona and key part of the Romania national team in the 1990s. He played for a string of European clubs in that period, including a four-year stint at PSV Eindhoven. His tactical knowledge as a defender made him a valuable team member in top European competitions until he reached his late-thirties. Beside from his defending skills, he was also capable starting attacks. He is the brother-in-law of fellow Romanian international Gheorghe Hagi.
Popescu in 2016
|Date of birth||9 October 1967|
|Place of birth||Calafat, Dolj County, Romania|
|Height||1.88 m (6 ft 2 in)|
|Playing position||Sweeper, centre back, midfielder|
|1988||→ Steaua Bucureşti (loan)||13||(1)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
After playing six seasons for Universitatea Craiova, Popescu was loaned to country giants Steaua Bucharest reaching the semi-finals of the European Cup during their 1987–88 campaign. He moved abroad to the Netherlands in 1990, and signed for PSV Eindhoven at the request of Sir Bobby Robson, helping them to keep among the top Dutch sides, until he was transferred to Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League on 9 September 1994 for a fee of £2.9million. He played 23 times in the Premier League and scored three goals as Spurs (who changed manager from Ossie Ardiles to Gerry Francis a few weeks after Popescu arrived) finished seventh in the league – their highest finish for five years. He also helped them to reach the FA Cup semi-finals, where they lost 4–1 to eventual cup winners Everton. However, after less than a year in England, he left Tottenham to sign for the Spanish club Barcelona for £3million, succeeding Ronald Koeman in the team. He was made captain of the Catalan club, contributing to their Copa del Rey (domestic cup) glory in his first season and their UEFA Cup Winners' Cup triumph in his second.
After leaving Barcelona during the summer of 1997, he was transferred to Galatasaray of Turkey, where he spent four years and won several major trophies, including the UEFA Cup in May 2000 – where Galatasaray defeated Arsenal, key rivals of his old club Tottenham, on penalties after a goalless draw in open play and he scored the final penalty shot in the penalty shootout. He spent the 2001–2002 season in Italy with Serie A club Lecce, before returning to his native Romania for a brief spell with Dinamo Bucharest, before winding up with a season in Germany with Hannover 96.
At international level, Popescu is Romania's all-time third most capped players with 115, in which he scored 16 goals. He played for his country in the 1990, 1994, and 1998 World Cups, Euro 96 and Euro 2000. He also entered the symbolic but exclusive circle of players with a century of caps.
On 4 March 2014, Popescu and seven others, among them Mihai Stoica, were convicted by a Romanian appeals court of money laundering and tax evasion in connection with the transfer of football players from Romania to other countries. Popescu was sentenced to a jail term of three years and one month.
|Club performance||League||Cup||League Cup||Continental||Total|
|Romania||League||Cupa României||Cupa Ligii||Europe||Total|
|1984–85||Universitatea Craiova||Divizia A||2||0||0||0|
|1987–88||Steaua Bucureşti||Divizia A||13||1||3||0|
|1988–89||Universitatea Craiova||Divizia A||33||8||0||0|
|Netherlands||League||KNVB Cup||League Cup||Europe||Total|
|England||League||FA Cup||League Cup||Europe||Total|
|1994–95||Tottenham Hotspur||Premier League||23||3||3||0||2||0||–||28||3|
|Spain||League||Copa del Rey||Copa de la Liga||Europe||Total|
|Turkey||League||Türkiye Kupası||League Cup||Europe||Total|
|Italy||League||Coppa Italia||League Cup||Europe||Total|
|Romania||League||Cupa României||Cupa Ligii||Europe||Total|
|2002–03||Dinamo Bucureşti||Divizia A||8||0||0||0||–||0||0||8||0|
|Romania national team|
- Scores and results list Romania's goal tally first. "Score" column indicates the score after the player's goal.
|1||17 May 1989||Stadionul Ghencea, Bucharest, Romania||Bulgaria||1–0||1–0||FIFA World Cup 1990 Qualifying|
|2||29 November 1992||Neo GSZ Stadium, Larnaca, Cyprus||Cyprus||1–0||4–1||FIFA World Cup 1994 Qualifying|
|3||12 November 1994||Stadionul Ghencea, Bucharest, Romania||Slovakia||1–0||3–2||UEFA Euro 1996 Qualifying|
|4||1 June 1996||Stadionul Ghencea, Bucharest, Romania||Moldova||2–0||3–1||Friendly|
|5||1 June 1996||Stadionul Ghencea, Bucharest, Romania||Moldova||3–0||3–1||Friendly|
|6||9 October 1996||Laugardalsvöllur, Reykjavík, Iceland||Iceland||3–0||4–0||World Cup 1998 Qualifying|
|7||14 December 1996||Gradski Stadium, Skopje, Republic of Macedonia||North Macedonia||1–0||3–0||World Cup 1998 Qualifying|
|8||14 December 1996||Gradski Stadium, Skopje, Republic of Macedonia||North Macedonia||2–0||3–0||World Cup 1998 Qualifying|
|9||14 December 1996||Gradski Stadium, Skopje, Republic of Macedonia||North Macedonia||3–0||3–0||World Cup 1998 Qualifying|
|10||29 March 1997||Stadionul Ghencea, Bucharest, Romania||Liechtenstein||2–0||8–0||World Cup 1998 Qualifying|
|11||29 March 1997||Stadionul Ghencea, Bucharest, Romania||Liechtenstein||3–0||8–0||World Cup 1998 Qualifying|
|12||29 March 1997||Stadionul Ghencea, Bucharest, Romania||Liechtenstein||6–0||8–0||World Cup 1998 Qualifying|
|13||29 March 1997||Stadionul Ghencea, Bucharest, Romania||Liechtenstein||8–0||8–0||World Cup 1998 Qualifying|
|14||6 June 1998||Stadionul Ilie Oană, Ploieşti, Romania||Moldova||1–0||5–1||Friendly|
|15||2 September 1998||Stadionul Ghencea, Bucharest, Romania||Liechtenstein||1–0||7–0||UEFA Euro 2000 Qualifying|
|16||6 October 2001||Stadionul Ghencea, Bucharest, Romania||Georgia||1–1||1–1||World Cup 2002 Qualifying|
- Süper Lig: 1997–98, 1998–99, 1999–2000
- Turkish Cup: 1998–99, 1999–2000
- UEFA Cup: 1999–2000
- UEFA Super Cup: 2000
- "Football: Spurs sign Popescu: Sugar takes outlay to 7.5m pounds". The Independent. 10 September 1994.
- "Gheorghe POPESCU". Sporting-heroes.net. Retrieved 28 December 2012.
- Ridley, Ian (13 August 1995). "Club-by-club guide: The prospects, the players to watch, the arrivals and departures". The Independent.
- "Planet World Cup: The All-Time World Cup Squads". planetworldcup.com. Retrieved 23 July 2009.
- Mamrud, Roberto (5 April 2003). "Gheorghe Popescu - Century of International Appearances". RSSSF. Retrieved 28 December 2012.
- "Ex-aanvoerder Barcelona moet drie jaar de cel in" (in Dutch). De Standaard. Retrieved 5 March 2014.
- "Gică Popescu, condamnat cu EXECUTARE cu o zi înaintea alegerilor de la FRF" (in Romanian). romaniatv.net. 4 March 2014. Retrieved 5 March 2014.
- "Gheorghe Popescu". National Football Teams. Benjamin Strack-Zimmerman.
- Gheorghe Popescu at RomanianSoccer.ro (in Romanian) and StatisticsFootball.com
- Razvan Toma (6 January 2016). "Romania - Player of the Year Awards". RSSSF. Retrieved 9 February 2016.