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banner Friday, 6 April, 2001, 13:01 GMT 14:01 UK
Hagi snubs Maradona
Hagi
Hagi will be honoured by many of the game's greats
Some of football's finest ever players are expected to attend a testimonial match for Gheorghe Hagi in Bucharest on 24 April.

Johan Cruyff, Michel Platini, Marcel Desailly, Fiorentina's Manuel Rui Costa, Paolo Maldini of AC Milan and Brescia's Roberto Baggio are all likely to honour the great Romanian midfielder.

But Diego Maradona will not be there.

Hagi, who is nicknamed "the Maradona of the Carpathians," did not invite the Argentinian for personal reasons.

His agent Giovani Becali said: "Hagi has great respect for Maradona as a footballer, but he has a lot of reservations about his private life."

Fifa president Sepp Blatter has confirmed his participation in the event, but Real Madrid's Spanish international Raul and England captain David Beckham have declined to attend.

Johan Cruyff
Cruyff is expected to watch Hagi's farewell match
Romania's sports minister has allocated $92,000 to help fund the farewell match of a national icon.

Capped 125 times by his country, Hagi retired from international football after Euro 2000 to focus his attention on Turkish champions Galatasaray.

Now 36, he was suspended for five matches in March for a furious outburst at a referee and subsequently stated his intention to quit playing professional football at the end of the 2001 season.

He is expected to assume a coaching position in Romania.

In a lengthy playing career, Hagi graced high-profile European clubs, Steaua Bucharest, Real Madrid and Barcelona with his exquisite skills.

And he propelled Galatasaray to their best ever season in 2000, when they won the Turkish double, the Uefa Cup and the Super Cup.

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See also:

03 Apr 01 |  Champions League
Galatasaray upset Real Madrid
20 Mar 01 |  Europe
Hagi to retire
15 Mar 01 |  Europe
Hagi banned for spitting at ref
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