October 17 2007
Football champions play for SOS Children's Villages Romania
17/10/2007 - Organised by the foundation of Gheorghe 'Gica' Popescu, the Champions' Evening event in Bucharest and Cluj gathered some of the world's finest names in football, raising 200,200 euros for SOS Children's Villages Romania.
Golden Generation versus Clockwork Orange was the much anticipated clash which brought not only enjoyment in the virtuosity of famous football stars, but also financial benefit for the Romanian children in need who found a new home and family in the care of SOS Children's Villages Romania.
The three-day Champions' Evening 2007 event began on 10 October 2007 in the Romanian capital of Bucharest with a gala dinner at which the guests had the opportunity to auction for the jerseys of some of the most famous Romanian and Dutch players. The jersey of retiring Romanian player Ioan Ovidiu Sabau was the most expensive item of the evening being sold for 55,000 euros. The jerseys of Gheorghe 'Gica' Popescu, Gheorghe Hagi and Ruud Gullit reached amounts of 20,000, 22,000 and 15,000 euros respectively.
Gheorghe Hagi surprised the gathered guests when he donated the FC Internazionale jersey of Portuguese player Luis Figo for which the interest of the auctioneers was great. On behalf of the Dutch team and the Dutch "FIFA for SOS Children's Villages" ambassador Ruud Van Nistelrooy, former Dutch defender Frank De Boer announced that the Clockwork Orange team are donating 15,000 euros to SOS Children's Villages Romania.
"It is always nice when [the players] get an opportunity to meet for such a generations' clash and it is even better when you get to play for a cause like SOS Children's Villages," said Frank De Boer at the press conference.
Fireworks and football in Cluj
The main event took place on 11 October 2007 in the CFR City Stadium in Cluj where a crowd of 16,000 enjoyed a night of football and fireworks. In an atmosphere of sportsmanship and fair play, the match ended with a draw and ten goals in total. The enthusiastic crowd fiercely supported their team giving the present national team the much needed boost before the Euro 2008 qualifier against the Netherlands on 13 October 2007 in Constanta which the Romanians won 1:0.
As the charity match was the good-bye game for Romanian player and Cluj native Ioan Ovidiu Sabau, his home crowd paid tribute to his performances in FC Cluj and the national team with standing ovations.
Among the loudest Romanian supporters in the crowd was a group of seven children from SOS Children's Village Cisnadie who travelled to Cluj at the invitation of the organiser and Romanian "FIFA for SOS Children's Villages" ambassador 'Gica' Popescu.
"Gica and Gica are the best!" nine-year-old Olimpiu kept exclaiming referring to Popescu and Hagi who bear the same nickname. 16-year-old Dani was somewhat calmer in following the game trying to learn as much as possible from his idols on the field which would help him improve his own game in the junior team in Sibiu.
Popescu and Hagi visit SOS Children's Village Bucharest
The special treat for the children of SOS Children's Villages Romania came on 12 October 2007 when both Gicas, Popescu and Hagi, visited SOS Children's Village Bucharest to present the cheque of 200,200 euros. The children quickly built a cordon around their idols waiting patiently for autographs which Popescu and Hagi signed on cards, footballs, jerseys, even on 18-year-old Lucian's mobile phone.
"The Champions' Evening is an event designed to provide assistance to Romanian society," said 'Gica' Popescu. "As FIFA/SOS ambassador it was my duty and honour to dedicate this edition to SOS Children's Villages Romania."
Three years ago Gheorghe Popescu, one of Romania's most important football names, launched the first Champions' Evening charity event with the participation of famous football stars from all over the world aimed at raising funds and awareness for humanitarian causes. The first event in 2004 held in Craiova raised 200,000 US dollars for the modernisation of the children's wing of the Craiova hospital. The second Champions' Evening in 2005 held in Timisoara raised half a million US dollars for the flood victims in Romania.
SOS Children's Villages Romania runs the work of three SOS Children's Villages, two SOS Youth Facilities, two SOS Kindergartens, one SOS Summer Camp, three family strengthening programmes and an SOS Playbus project.