Former international football player Daniel Prodan, who died of a heart attack last Wednesday, at the age of 44, was buried on Saturday at the St. Elijah Cemetery in Bucharest. The lifeless body of the “iron fullback” was accompanied by former teammates from Steaua and the Romanian national team: Gica Popescu, Gica Hagi, Adrian Ilie, Basarab Panduru, Bogdan Stelea, Jean Vladoiu, Miodrag Belodedici, Anton Dobos, Tibi Csik and Mariua Lacatus.
As a sign of homage and to honour his memory, a moment of silence was observed before the Atletico Madrid vs. Real Madrid game on Saturday evening. Daniel “Didi” Prodan played on Vicente Calderon from 1987 to 1998, where he had current Atletico Madrid head coach Diego Simeone as teammate. “He was a very good man and teammate. I was shocked when I found out, this news saddened me,” Simeone said.
Likewise, FIFA President Gianni Infantino sent a letter to the Romanian Football Federation, expressing his sadness for the disappearance, at the age of 44, of former international player Daniel Prodan.
“Please accept my condolences for the tragic disappearance of former Romanian international Daniel Prodan, former Steaua Bucharest and Atletico Madrid player, with 54 caps for Romania and member of the legendary team that reached the World Cup 1994 quarterfinals,” reads the letter.
“On behalf of the entire international football community, I would be grateful if you could relay our condolences to his family and loved ones. We would like our words to bring, to some extent, some peace and comfort in these sad moments,” Gianni Infantino added.
At the funeral, former national team captain Gica Popescu gave an emotional speech: “It would have been almost impossible for me to talk freely at this moment, so why I wrote down some words about Didi. I even find it difficult to read them.”
“I still can’t believe where we are now, why we are here. We lost a colleague and a friend that any person would have liked to have. A great soul who loved people so much and who spread only joy around him. Whoever knew Didi knows it was enough for him to smile to cheer you up, and him also telling you a story changed your whole day.”
“His departure has torn us all to shreds. As great as the joy we lived together was, as painful saying goodbye is. He had such great plans with football and wanted with all his heart to change things, to make them shine like before. Our golden generation is no longer in full line-up. It is terribly hard for us to play one man down, but we promise Didi we will do everything in our power for him to look down on us and see his dreams fulfilled.”
“Several minutes before he left us, his last words to me were: ‘I’m with you, Gica!’ Yes, Didi, I can feel it… Even if you are no longer here, you will be forever in my soul. Goodbye, golden friend!” were the words of the former national team captain, according to journalist Dorin Chiotea.