October 13, 2014 / 5:27 PM / 5 years ago

Focused Rat set to earn 100th Romania cap in Helsinki

(Reuters) - Razvan Rat will earn his landmark 100th cap for Romania when they face Finland on Tuesday but the defender will not let the occasion cloud his focus as he is determined to help his country earn three points in the Group F Euro 2016 qualifier.

Romania's national soccer team player Razvan Rat smiles during a news conference at Karaiskaki stadium in Piraeus near Athens November 14, 2013. REUTERS/Yorgos Karahalis

“Yes, it’s a special game for me but I’m thinking how to win the match, we’ll have to do everything possible to win it,” the 33-year-old PAOK Salonika player told reporters ahead of the match in Helsinki’s Olympic Stadium.

“I’ll be twice as happy if we beat Finland tomorrow.”

Coach Victor Piturca confirmed that former Shakhtar Donetsk and West Ham United defender Rat will captain the Romanians in their third match of the qualifying campaign.

“We need to recover after losing two important points against Hungary at home,” added Rat, who made his international debut in a friendly game against France in 2002.

Romania began their campaign with a 1-0 win at Greece and then drew 1-1 with neighbors Hungary in a highly-charged affair, marred by crowd trouble.

Romania are third in the standings on four points from two matches, two behind leaders Northern Ireland and below Finland on goal difference.

Rat is on the verge of becoming the fifth player to reach the century milestone for his country after Dorinel Munteanu (134), Gheorghe Hagi (124), Gheorghe Popescu (115) and Ladislau Boloni (102).

Rat, who was part of the Romanian team that played at the Euro 2008 finals, was instrumental in helping Shakhtar win seven Ukrainian league titles between 2005 and 2013 and the UEFA Cup in 2009.

He is regarded as something of a hero at home, having grown up in a poor family in the small southern town of Piatra-Olt and leaving his home at 13 to join the Universitatea Craiova’s youth team.

Reporting by Angel Krasimirov, editing by Pritha Sarkar

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