Six years after drowning in debt, the historic Romanian Rapid from Bucharest has returned to Romania’s first division after being re-founded in 2017 as a Romanian fourth division team.
“I have waited for this moment since we started playing in mud fields; God has finally done justice ”, said the coach of the garnet team, Mihai Iosif, in statements collected today by the sports newspaper Gazeta Sporturilor.
With one day to go to the end of the season, Rapid achieved their promotion to first place last night despite losing 1-3 at home with the leader of the promotion play-off, the University of Craiova, thanks to the draw by Mioveni, who left this team with no mathematical chance of being second.
Although the game was played behind closed doors, Rapid had the support of a thousand fans who gathered outside the tiny Buftea stadium, outside Bucharest, where the game was played.
As the stadium does not even have stands at the back, the fans were able to make their flags visible and reach the players with their chants from behind the fence that delimits the field.
Many old club glories gathered for the match in the authorities’ rostrum, including the current Ukrainian Dynamo Kiev coach, Mircea Lucescu, who once triumphed at Rapid as a manager.
“I feel very good, I listen to the fans and they seem to be the slave choir of the Nabucco opera,” said Lucescu, who is one of the most successful active coaches in Europe, after the match. “I missed the atmosphere they create,” he added about the Rapid fans.
Rapid Bucharest will not only return to the first division next season. The team will also return to its old home in the Giulesti neighborhood, albeit with the stadium completely renovated after the old field was demolished in 2019.
With 3 League titles and 13 Romanian Cups, Rapid Bucharest is the third most popular team in the Romanian capital after Steaua and Dinamo.
The club was founded in 1923 by railway workers in Grivita, a popular neighborhood with a strong presence of Roma, and is considered in Romania the team of gypsies and the working class.