A former Chelsea, Bradford City, Southampton and Sheffield Wednesday defender, Petrescu is now making a name for himself in the dugout after a lengthy playing career.
The 51-year-old Romanian has coached 13 clubs since making his managerial debut in 2003 and, after spells in China, Israel and Qatar, he is currently in the midst of a second spell at CFR Cluj.
The three-time Romania Coach of the Year returned to Cluj in 2018 and led them to the title before humiliating Celtic in front of their own Parkhead crowd with a famous 4-3 win during August’s Champions League qualification phase.
But it could have been oh so different if Petrescu had taken up the option to replace Neil Warnock at Selhurst Park all those years ago.
“I had an offer from Crystal Palace in the Premier League when the team had 4 points in 11 matches. The boss (Steve Parish) came, and I asked them ‘how is it that you have 4 points from 11 matches?’. He told me that he would extend my contract if I saved the team; otherwise, he’d replace me,” Petrescu said.
“At Dinamo Moscow, I had a good team, and I was high in the standings. It was difficult to go there to save the team.
“You are compromised if you go and get relegated from the Premier League. I didn’t go. Tony Pulis came in the same situation and saved the team!”
Crystal Palace are an established top flight team these days with 72-year-old Roy Hodgson still pulling up trees well past pensioner age. Petrescu, meanwhile, is doing pretty well for himself in Eastern Europe and Premier League offers will surely present themselves again if he continues to dominate Romanian football with Cluj.
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