Tottenham Hotspur

Ilie Dumitrescu - Tottenham Hotspur - Biography of his Tottenham career.

Photo/Foto: George Herringshaw

Date: 30 August 1994

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      Monday, 06 January 1969
      Bucharest, Romania
  • Tottenham Hotspur
    • Club Career Dates
    • League Debut
      Saturday, 20th August 1994 in a 4-3 win at Sheffield Wednesday (Aged: 25)
    • Club Career
      16 League apps (+2 as sub), 4 goals
  • West Ham United
    • Club Career Dates
    • League Debut
      Saturday, 9th March 1996 as a sub in a 2-0 win at home to Middlesbrough (Aged: 27)
    • Club Career
      (Mar 1996-Dec 1996)
      5 League apps (+5 as sub) Prostate cancer charity 150 x 150 Image

Ilie DUMITRESCU - Tottenham Hotspur - Biography of his Tottenham career.


Midfielder Ilie Dumitrescu had been one of the stars of the 1994 World Cup when he made the £2.6m move from Steaua Bucharest to Tottenham Hotspur that July. Spurs had struggled in the season just gone and Dumitrescu was the first big name signing of Ossie Ardiles' summer rebuilding programme, which also saw Jurgen Klinsmann and another Romanian, Gheorghe Popescu, brought to White Hart Lane.


Dumitrescu arrived amid unsavoury tabloid reports about his private life - which were later proved unfounded - but initial signs on the pitch were much more promising. Along with Klinsmann, Teddy Sheringham, Nick Barmby and Darren Anderton, he became part of Tottenham's five-pronged attack, nicknamed the 'Famous Five'. Starting on the left but with the freedom to exchange positions with his fellow attackers, Dumitrescu was particularly adept at taking on defenders, his quick feet and speed along the ground allowing him to evade challenges with ease. Ilie got off the mark in only his fourth appearance, but not with his feet - a stunning diving header that helped to beat Ipswich Town 3-1 at Portman Road (the photo above is during the game).


Although his preference to cut inside on his right foot was seen as predictable by critics, there was nothing predictable about his goal against Nottingham Forest at White Hart Lane on 24th September. Picking the ball up on the left hand side, the Romanian weaved in and out of the Forest tackles before drawing the goalkeeper and firing a left footed shot into the roof of the net from an acute angle. A similar run later earned a penalty, although Sheringham's effort was saved and Spurs went on to lose the game 4-1. Dumitrescu's only other two league goals for Spurs came in another heavy defeat, 5-2 at Manchester City in October.


Though he was undoubtedly skilful, Ilie's inactivity when opponents were in possession was particularly exposed during Tottenham's disappointing run of two league wins in eight games from mid September to the end of October. The attacking formation had proved too open and Ardiles lost his job. As his replacement Gerry Francis looked to mould a talented group of players into a more solid unit, there was no room for anyone without the required workrate and Dumitrescu fell out of favour after only 13 starts. A loan spell at Sevilla followed, but Ilie returned to London after the Spanish club refused to meet the asking price to make the transfer permanent.


His luck didn't improve as 1995-96 got underway and after only three more league starts for Tottenham, the Romanian was sold to West Ham United for £1.5m in March 1996. Work permit problems restricted him to a handful of appearances at Upton Park and after further brief spells in Mexico with Club America and Atlanta, and back at Steaua, it was clear that Dumitresu's failures abroad had severely affected his confidence. He retired from professional football in 1999, aged just 29. (Alex Voskou)