Romania’s defensive rock, Ciprian Tatarusanu

Bucharest (AFP) – Fiorentina goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu has been a rock in a Romania side that has thrown up an impressive defensive shield on the road to the European Championship finals.

First-choice goalkeeper for Romania since his international debut in 2010, the 30-year-old, capped 34 times, anchored a defence that conceded just two goals in 10 games during the during the Euro 2016 qualifiers. No other side can match that.

One of the few Romanians playing regularly in one of Europe’s top five championships, he also kept a clean sheet around every third game this season for his Italian club, often earning a ‘best goalkeeper of the round’ ranking by journalists.

“He’s a great ‘keeper,” Adrian Mutu, former Fiorentina star and Romania’s joint top goalscorer, told a Romanian website in a recent interview.

“The only goalkeeper better than him in Serie A is Gianluigi Buffon of Juventus,” Mutu said.

Tatarusanu joined Fiorentina in 2014 from Steaua Bucharest, where he won two league titles in five seasons, and spectacularly saved two penalties against Swiss outfit Grasshoppers in a Europa League play-off in 2010.

Not prone to showing off however, he eschews flamboyance for simply getting the job done.

“You can be spectacular only if you are efficient at the same time,” he told the Libertatea website.

“Goalkeepers are not crazy, they are just braver than other players,” he added.

In 2015 he was named Player of the Year in Romania, the first goalkeeper to win the award since Steaua’s Helmuth Duckadam, who saved all four penalties in a shoot-out with Barcelona for the 1986 European Cup Final.

Only born that year, Tatarusanu’s first memory of watching Romanian football on the big stage was the 1994 World Cup.

A flamboyant side, led by current coach Anghel Iordanescu and inspired by its captain Gheorghe Hagi, reached the quarter-finals beating Diego Maradona’s Argentina 3-2 on the way, a game which thrilled fans around the world.

“My parents went over to the neighbours to watch it, but we weren’t allowed on the street at that age, so my brother set the alarm clock and we crept down the stairs to turn on the TV,” he told the Libertatea website.

Now Iordanescu is back in charge for his third term as national team coach, and, in the absence of any Hagi-type attacking spirit, is relying on defensive rock Tatarusanu to keep out foes at Euro 2016.

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