At the age of 33, Cristian Chivu announced earlier this week that he is retiring from the game. The Romanian international, who earned 63 caps for his country, played in Euro 2000 and Euro 2008, but he is perhaps best remembered for his glittering club career.
Chivu made a name for himself at A.F.C. Ajax where he was a favorite of then manager Ronald Koeman. The Dutchman made Chivu the captain of a side bursting with young talent, with the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovich, Rafael Van der Vaart and Wesley Sneijder.
Chivu’s success at Ajax came in 2001-2002 with the club winning the Eredivisie and KNVP, “the Dutch” cup. The following season Ajax posted a stunning display in the Champions League that ended with a quarterfinal loss to A.C. Milan.
Chivu, like many others at Ajax at this time had outgrown the Dutch Eredivisie and a big money move to Serie A was to take place. A.S. Roma secured the signature of the defender in the summer of 2003 for €18 million. Although Roma did not win any titles in his first season with the club, Chivu helped the side finish second in Serie A. In his second season with Roma, he saw limited appearances due to breaking a bone in his foot while playing beach soccer during the summer break.
Chivu would go on to play two more seasons with the Giallorossi and his only piece of silverware with Roma came with the Coppa Italia crown won against Inter Milan in 2007.
In the summer of 2007, the big names would come calling for Chivu. The likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona and Inter Milan were all in the mix to land the defender. In the end, Chivu decided on a stay in Italy and signed with defending Serie A champions Inter.
It was at Inter where he would enjoy the most successful period of his career winning 3 Serie A titles, 2 Coppa Italia crowns, 2 Italian Super cups, a Champions League and a FIFA Club World Cup.
Known for the odd rash challenge and occasional loss of cool, Chivu is one of the players immortalized for his part in the treble winning season under Jose Mourinho in 2010.
His career at Inter could have taken a cruel twist when he was severely injured in a match against Chievo Verona. Chivu collided heads with Chievo striker Sergio Pellissier; the impact fractured his skull and after a two hour surgery, his return to the side that season was put under serious doubt. Against all the odds, Chivu made it back into the team just in time to have a starring role at the Stadio Santiago Bernabeu where Inter won their first Champions League crown in almost half a century over Bayern Munich. However, he would wear a rugby helmet for the rest of his career, a constant reminder of his brutal injury.
Chivu played three more seasons with Inter Milan making a total of 169 appearances for the club, until a recurring foot injury put his future in doubt. Limited starts last season and an inability to shake the injury led to Inter and Chivu mutually agreeing to terminate his stay with the Nerazzurri.