Passionate, loyal, consistent, solid. All of these words describe Lazio‘s most capped currently active player, Stefan Radu. Radu is an unsung hero and a left-sided defender who rarely has a bad game. Since arriving at Lazio in January of 2008, the Romanian international has since become a first team regular and has even sporadically worn the armband for i biancocelesti.
Stefan Daniel Radu was born on the 22nd of October, 1986 in the Romanian capital of Bucharest. At the age of just 13 he was signed to the youth team of the Romanian giants, Dinamo București and was there until he got promoted to the senior team 5 years later. He spent 4 seasons there amassing 61 caps and gained national attention as a great talent by the Romanian media. His performances at centre-back for Dinamo helped them win their 18th league title.
ARRIVAL TO LAZIO
Lazio signed the largely coveted defender on loan for €1M in the winter of the following season. Radu made his debut in a 2-1 win over Fiorentina in the Coppa Italia. He did very well in his loan spell and as result, earned a permanent €3.5M move to the capital club.
In his first full season with Lazio, manager Delio Rossi had faith in Stefan, playing him in 21 games in all competitions. This faith paid off as Radu helped Lazio win their 5th Coppa Italia and then their 3rd Supercoppa Italiana a few months after.
BACKGROUND, HISTORY, ACCOMPLISHMENTS
In the following 2009-10 season, despite Lazio finishing 12th in the Serie A, Radu was named among the 10 best defenders in Italy by Castrol. His solid performances even piqued the interest of Palermo, Inter, and Bayern Munich, but fortunately for us Laziali he stayed put.
Radu’s 4th season with i biancocelesti saw manager Edy Reja convert him to left-back in a four-at-the-back formation. Unfortunately his season was interrupted by a meniscus injury. Radu then returned to help Lazio achieve a very impressive 5th place finish.
In June of 2011 the Romanian international renewed his contract with Lazio until 2016. In the following season he appeared in 21 Serie A and 5 Europa League matches, finishing with a respectable average rating of 7.15 and one MOTM performance (source: whoscored.com).
The 2012-13 season was Radu’s best season statistically. He managed a Serie A rating of 7.19 (5th best on the team) and a Europa League rating of 7.47 (2nd best on the team) according to whoscored.com. He also managed to score his first ever goal for i biancocelesti in a Europa League win over Maribor. He then he went on to score in the Coppa Italia and in the Serie A later that season as well. Radu also got 2 assists and another MOTM in addition to being a crucial part of Lazio’s 6th Coppa Italia win.
The next season was also successful for Radu as he had the 4th highest average rating on the team (7.11) and contributed with his 2nd career Serie A goal and his 3rd career MOTM performance.
In the 2014-15 season Radu was a big part of Lazio’s impressive 3rd place finish and Coppa Italia run, contributing with 2 assists and a goal in the Coppa Italia finals. At the end of the season he extended his contract once again for another 5 years.
Lazio had a disappointing 2015-16 season, finishing 8th. I believe this is partly due to Radu only making 13 Serie A appearances. Stefan managed 1 assist and another MOTM in these 13 games and had his first red card in 5 years.
Last season was much better for Lazio as they finished 5th in the league and runners-up once again in the Coppa Italia. Unsurprisingly Radu appeared in 31 games, scoring twice and assisting once.
Finally, this season, a big reason why Lazio has had the success that they have had so far is Radu has already appeared in 28 games in all competitions. Out of these 28 games, he had the highest rating out of Lazio’s three defenders on 9 occasions, more than any other defender (source: whoscored.com). On October 25th, 2017 he surpassed Idilio Cei for 10th most Lazio appearances of all time.
- Goals: 7
- Assists: 16
- Own Goals: 0
- Yellow Cards: 76
- Red Cards: 3
- Career tackles/game: 1.7
- Career interceptions/game: 2.7
- Career clearances/game: 4.2
- MOTM: 5
- Average Rating: 7.02
- Serie A appearances: 244 (9th all time)
- UEFA appearances: 37 (10th all time)
- National cup appearances: 22
- Total Lazio appearances: 306 (8th all time)
- Minutes played: 26358
- Trophies: 4 (Coppa Italia x2, Supercoppa Italiana x2)
(sources: transfermarkt.co.uk, whoscored.com: for Lazio as of March 10th, 2018)
I believe there’s a clear correlation between Lazio’s success and how often Radu plays. For example, in 2015-16 Radu had 13 Serie A caps and Lazio finished a measly 8th, but the season before and after that one he made 24 and 29 appearances respectively and Lazio did much better, placing 3rd the year before and 5th last year. Furthermore, his old club Dinamo Bucuresti have not won a league title since leaving the club more than 10 years ago. This is no coincidence.
Radu is a quiet difference maker. He puts in his all for i biancocelesti and is as dependable as they get. Stefan Radu is not flashy by any means, but he does his job and he does it well. He is the club’s most capped non-Italian and with 306 appearances under his belt (and counting), Lazio’s Mr. Consistent left-back is sure to become a club legend when he retires.