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Sunday, 18 June, 2000, 16:50 GMT 17:50 UK
Hagi looks for another chance
Paulo Bento and Gheorghe Hagi
Hagi looking to play again at Euro 2000
Gheorghe Hagi believes his team-mates can provide him with one last chance to perform on the Euro 2000 stage by beating England in Charleroi.

The Romanian skipper has been at the heart of their midfield for almost two decades and will have to watch from the sidelines having picked up his second booking of the tournament against Portugal.

Romania need a victory against England to have any chance of securing a quarter-final place and Hagi knows it will be tough if he is to have one last opportunity to shine on the international stage before retiring.

"Romania can beat England without me. It's difficult but why not?" Hagi asked.

"It's very difficult for me because I wanted to play in this game."

It's difficult but we have a last chance and we have to wait and see

Gheorghe Hagi

Playing in his third European Championship finals, he almost grabbed the winner against Portugal but Romania came away from Arnhem with nothing to show for their efforts after a last-gasp header from Costinha.

Hagi said: "We did more than Portugal during the game and played better football but I said before the game we've got to be more intelligent in this game.

"In the last second Portugal were more intelligent than Romania. The goal was a gift."

Hagi has already retired from international football once, after stepping down at the end of France 98, but was persuaded to return last year and lead Romania's Euro 2000 challenge.

He said: "This competition is 'goodbye' for me but I can be proud of my career. Maybe, just maybe, Romania will beat England.

"It's difficult but we have a last chance and we have to wait and see."

Gheorghe Hagi
Made his Romania debut in 1983
He has played in three European Championships
Has played in three World Cups
Voted Romania's Footballer of the century

The Romanian coach will naturally have to find a replacement for the playmaker but Emerich Jenei hopes that Hagi's suspension will make his team operate better as a unit.

"It is a big loss for us, there is no doubt about that and at the moment I can not tell you who will replace him," Jenei said.

"But I hope that in his absence the team will respond by giving a better collective performance. Perhaps we will be stronger together."

Romania beat England 2-1 at an identical stage of the World Cup finals in France in 1998 but Jenei said it would be wrong to read too much into that result.

"Of course we hope to repeat that World Cup result but they are not the same two teams.

"I think that we have more experienced players than England but both teams are stronger than two years ago," Jenei added.

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See also:

13 Jun 00 | Euro2000
Coach counts the cost
14 May 00 | Squad
Gheorghe Hagi
06 Jun 00 | Romania
Hagi lined up for Galatasaray job
17 Jun 00 | Euro2000
Portugal into the quarter-finals
05 Jun 00 | Romania
Romania miss Hagi in nervy win
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