BUCHAREST (Reuters) - Vlad Chiriches stands at the centre of Romania’s impressive stonewall defence, a centre half who proves the old adage that some players are more important to their countries than their clubs.
Great things were expected of the Romanian at Tottenham Hotspur when he arrived as part of the 86 million pounds they received from the sale of Gareth Bale.
However, after two forgettable seasons in which he was dismissed as too error-prone and sent off in his final game against Stoke City, Chiriches was offloaded in 2014 to Serie A side Napoli.
Once again he has struggled to secure a first-team place, appearing fewer than 20 times in all competitions for the Italian club.
With three more years on his contract, Chiriches has time on his side. With Romania however, the 38-times capped totem is long established as the pivotal force in a defensive side whose strategy seldom varies from securing clean sheets at one end and hoping for luck at the other.
That combination was effective enough to see just two goals conceded in qualifying for Euro 2016, an achievement in no small part down to the 26-year-old.
Chiriches’s game is based on speed but he is also an accomplished distributor of the ball from the back and his aerial dominance and an up-and-at-them attitude mark him out as one of the country’s great defensive talents.
Around him stand the experienced Razvan Rat, Dragos Grigore and Gabriel Tamas, a formidable foursome who will let little past them in France.
Writing by Angel Krasimirov