World Soccer: It’s your first big tournament. Does life get any better than this?
Gabriel Torje: It’s a dream come true. Of course, I now want more. It will be difficult for Romania, but we’ll run like crazy, we’ll work more and more, we’ll do everything to make sure Romania look good in France. It’s not a cliche, but we’ve prepared for this since we were born. We are ready to fight for our country.
How big is this for Romanian football?
Unfortunately, it’s very big. I say this because Romania shouldn’t even consider not qualifying for every tournament. We shouldn’t have empty stands in the Romanian league. We shouldn’t stop producing amazing talents. We have football in our blood. Just watch how many kids still play football, how many fathers are happy when there’s a derby in the league. We must not lose this!
Are you nervous ahead of the opening game with France?
I’m always nervous. I can get nervous even when I train and see a Romanian flag flying around. At Euro 2016 we will be playing for the biggest player we’ve seen in our careers. I’m talking about our 12th man, the Romanian fans. They need a national team to be proud of.
What are Romania’s chances of springing a surprise in France?
We are working, we are believing and we are dreaming. I can assure you of that. From a scale from 1 to 10, we’re a perfect 12. That’s because we have our fans with us. I haven’t felt for a while that we’re so united.
What do you think the opening game will be like?
Against France, it will be crazy. All the planet’s eyes will be on this game. Can you imagine an entire planet doing the same thing on June 10? The entire planet will be watching us. I can’t wait, these are the games we live for. Do we attack or do we defend? I don’t know. We work, we believe and we dream, that’s our tactical plan.
Do you regard Euro 2016 as a stepping stone in your career?
I am proud and I thank God for what I’ve done in my career so far. I hope to stay healthy. As Cruyff used to say, “quality is useless without results. Results without quality are boring”. I hope to stay healthy and not become boring!
Is France an impossible opponent to play on their home ground for the opening game of the tournament?
I’ll quote Cruyff once more. I loved this man. “I’ve never seen a bag of money score goals.” We’ll work like crazy, we’ll fight like it’s the last game of our lives. I don’t know how the scoreboard will look in the end. It’s vital that Romania plays well, with its head high, and works for 90 minutes.
Who can be a star discovery in the current national team?
Me! You can imagine I’d love it to be me! But I’m joking! Any of the players we have can come up with something big. Romania has to produce a good impression, not only a player or two!
Can we expect an attacking surprise from this Romanian team or will the focus be on good defensive organisation?
There’s only one ball on the pitch, so you must fight to have it in your possession. And, of course, you have to get it in the opposition’s goal. We’ll make all efforts so that happens.
What do you have that others don’t?
A long absence from final tournaments. We missed it a lot. We are very, very motivated. And the fans love us. We missed them as well, I’m so glad we are going to France together. I can’t wait to see my Romanians in the stands at the Stade de France. What if we’re not as many as they are? I know how my Romanians sound when they’re screaming together.
Interview by Emanuel Rosu