Romanians hold their sports champions in high regard. Their favorite personalities are those who have brought Romania international awareness with their results abroad, mostly in the past.
Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci is still the most appreciated sports personality, with more than 95% of Romanians saying they have a good or very good opinion about her, according to a recent INSCOP survey. Nadia Comaneci became famous at the Montreal Olympics, in 1976, when she became first female gymnast to be awarded a perfect score of 10.
Second comes young tennis champion Simona Halep, who is highly regarded by 93.8% of Romanians, due to her recent performances. Halep, currently number three in the WTA ranking of the best women’s tennis players in the world, has won several important tennis tournaments in the past two years. Her most recent triumph was at Indian Wells in the US. She probably still needs to win a Grand Slam tournament in order for her performances to be remembered by the generations to come, as in Comaneci’s case.
Third in the popularity ranking is famous football player Gheorghe Hagi. He led Romania’s national team to the quarter finals of the World Cup in 1994 and achieved international fame playing for such clubs as Real Madrid and Galatasaray Istanbul. He now manages his own football club, FC Viitorul, which plays in Romania’s top football league. Almost 91% of Romanians have a good opinion about Hagi.
Former tennis player Ilie Nastase comes next, followed by football managers Mircea Lucescu and Anghel Iordanescu. For most of these sports people the popularity comes from past performances, except for Simona Halep, who is a rising star. This also reflects the lack of international performances for Romanian sports in recent years.