Ex-Spurs star Popescu worked as a spy – and played at club he tried to take down

Gheorghe Popescu may be remembered for his Champions League winners’ medal with Barcelona or 115 Romania appearances.

Equally, Premier League fans may recall his three goals in 23 top flight appearances for Tottenham.

Though there is no doubt that his life as a spy is certainly one that also catches the eye.

Popescu wrote four notes informing on team-mates and other colleagues while he was playing for Universitatea Craiova.

He had originally denied helping the secret police, who were under the regime of Nicolae Ceacescu, during the 1980s.

Though he later admitted he did help spy on his team-mates for three years from 1986, insisting he had signed a document promising to 'defend the national interests’.

Popescu said he only passed on a quartet of notes, each time praising the individuals that were involved.

In truth, he probably had little option but to comply with around four per cent of Romania reporting to the secret police at the time.

Universitatea Craiova were regulars in the UEFA Cup or the Cup Winners' Cup in the 80s and the Securitate wanted to keep an eye on potential troublemakers.

The Guardian report that Popescu’s punishment for non-cooperation could have been worse that Laszlo Boloni had endured.

Boloni was ostracised from the Romania squad due to having a Hungarian surname.

Popescu did end up putting the time behind him, going on to impress in the Netherlands with PSV Eindhoven before his one-season stay at White Hart Lane.

And though he won the Champions League with Barcelona, his life took a downward spiral in retirement.

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  • In 2014 he, and seven others, were convicted by a Romanian appeals court of money laundering and tax evasion in connection with the transfer of football players.

    Popescu, who played for Romania in three consecutive World Cup finals, was sentenced to a jail term of three years and one month.

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