Saturday 3 December 2016

Romanian footballer haunted by missed penalty

Graham Clifford in Bucharest

Published 06/06/2015 | 02:30

Republic of Ireland goalkeeper Packie Bonner saves Romania's Daniel Timofte's penalty during the 1990 World Cup, Second Round. Picture credit; Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE
Republic of Ireland goalkeeper Packie Bonner saves Romania's Daniel Timofte's penalty during the 1990 World Cup, Second Round. Picture credit; Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE

Out of work and struggling to keep his weight down, former Romanian footballer Daniel Timofte gave a rare interview this week in which he explained that the pain of missing that penalty against Ireland at Italia '90 still haunts him.

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"I never talk about it," he said, adding: "I have never even watched footage of it."

Today Timofte is unrecognisable from the slender midfielder who lined up to take Romania's fifth penalty in Genoa on June 25, 1990.

The 47-year-old owns a small bar called Penalty in his hometown, a former mining stronghold in the centre of the country, but business is slow and turnover modest. He quit his managerial job at a Romanian football club earlier this year when it became insolvent.

In the lobby of a city centre hotel in Bucharest, Timofte says that had his penalty kick against Ireland hit the back of the net things could have been so different.

"I had it in my mind to kick the ball straight down the middle but a team mate told me to pick a side, it was a big mistake. If we had won that shoot-out, maybe we could have won the World Cup and life would have been better," he told the Irish Independent.

And 25 years after they came face to face, Timofte and Packie Bonner spoke for the first time. Their conversation, which can be heard on Independent.ie, was remarkable with Timofte telling the Donegal legend "I made you a superstar", and Bonner apologising to his counterpart for saving his penalty.

Bonner said: "I'm sorry I saved the penalty Daniel, it changed my life (for the better), but I hope it didn't change your life for the worse."

On his return to Romania after Italia '90 Timofte was targeted by some irate fans for missing the vital spot-kick.

In today's 'Weekend Review' Graham Clifford writes of the interview with Timofte and the first ever conversation between him and Bonner.

Irish Independent

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