Romania was somehow off the radar – regarded as a strong football country, yet, providing no big news. The failure to qualify for the World Cup was somewhat of a surprise, but no attention was paid. Hence, it is difficult to evaluate the real situation. Politically, Romania refused to participate in the invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, which was interpreted (both in West and East) as a liberalization of Dracula land. There were other, mostly economic, overtures to the West, seen as more signs of possible changes. In football, such signs were seen or imagined too: the grip of Bucharest, and, more precisely, the evil dual dominance of Army and Police clubs, was not present since 1965. Various provincial clubs won championships. Even more: like Poland, Romania started exporting players to the West. It was very quiet and careful affair, never mentioned in the press – selected old former national players were sold mostly to Turkish clubs, to Cyprus, but few – to France, Belgium, West Germany, and Austria. The practice was halted around 1974, which, for lack of any official reason, may be interpreted as a general return to hard policies. There were two accidents, which support such interpretive view. As far as I know, the following players were sold abroad: Ion Nunweiller from Dynamo (Bucharest) to Fenerbahce (Istanbul). He played 91 games and scored 7 goals for fenerbahce between 1967 and 1970. Former national player. Mircea Sasu, who played 9 games and scored twice for Romania (last match in 1968) also went to Fenrebahce around 1970. Ion Ionescu was transferred in 1968 from Rapid (Bucharest) to Alemania (Aachen, West Germany). Gheorghe Constantin (Steaua Bucharest, 39 caps and 12 goals for Romania) went to Kayserispor (Turkey) in 1969 and played until 1971. Ilie Datcu (Dynamo Bucharest and member of 1964 Olympic squad of Romania) joined Fenerbahce in 1969 and played 220 matches for the Istanbul club, where he retired in 1975. Emerich Jenei (Steaua, 12 matches for Romania and member of 1964 Olympic squad) played for Kayserispor between 1969 and 1971. Another Nunwieler – Lica – changed Dynamo’s kit for Besiktas in 1969 and played in Istanbul one season. Fresh from the 1970 World Cup, Vasile Gergely (Dynamo Bucharest, 36 matches and 2 goals for Romania) went to Hertha (West Berlin) in 1970 and played until 1972. Same year another Dynamo player – Ion Parcalab (38 matches and 5 goals for Romania, played at 1964 Olympics) joined Nimes Olympique (France) and stayed with them until 1973. Another member of the 1970 World Cup Romanian squad – Dan Coe – went to Antwerpen (Belgium) in 1971 and returned back in 1973 to play for his original club FC Galati to the end of his career.
Dan Coe at the World Cup 1970 and a bizarre story: he returned to Romania after playing in Belgium, but defected after the end of his playing career to West Germany. He was found dead in 1981 and the Police never determined the nature of the death – murder or suicide. He was a building caretaker at the time. Ion Barbu (Arges, 7 caps and no goals for Romania) joined Besiktas for one season. Florea Voinea moved from Steaua to Olympique Nimes and played in France 1970-72. Two more members of 1970 World Cup team moved abroad in 1972 – Mihai Mocanu (Petrolul Ploesti, 33 caps for Romania) went to Omonia (Nicosia) for the next two seasons. Nicolae Lupescu (Rapid Bucharest, 21 matches and 2 goals for Romania) did better – went to Admira-Wacker (Austria), where he retired in 1977. And finally in 1973 Constantin Fratila, who did not play for Romanian national team since 1967 (7 caps and 7 goals in total) transferred from Dynamo (Bucharest) to Omonia (Nicosia). He played only one season in Cyprus. And that was the end, as far as I can find out. Only two players are recognizable names: Ion Nunweiler, quite famous in his best years, but also part of respected and talented dynasty of players – 7 brothers in total. The other one is Emerich Jenei, but if he is familiar name, that is because of his coaching career. However, two events, no doubt unpleasant to Communist Romania, happened: Vasile Gergely, an ethnic Hungarian, changed his name and declared himself Hungarian as soon as he was arrived in West Germany. He was also involved in the West German bribing scandal of 1972 and punished. Not good for squeaky clean Communist image.
No longer Romanian Vasile – in West Germany it was Laszlo Gergely, Hungarian. Playing for Hertha (West Berlin) The goalkeeper Ilie Datcu went a step further – becoming something of a legend for Fenerbahce, not only he did not return to his Communist homeland, but took Turkish citizenship in 1978 and changed his name to Ilyas Datca. The change of name was not his fault, for it is a constitutional requirement for citizenship in Turkey, but from Romanian perspective it was a big blemish: a traitor and an enemy, at least as official version.
Ilie Datcu growing mustache and going Turk. So much for ‘liberalization’ and ‘relaxation’ But Steaua (the Army club) and Dynamo (the Police, and naturally the Secret Police) were not hegemonic yet – this was coming back, but a few years later.