Mutu apologies to nation for penalty miss

June 14, 2008

BUCHAREST, June 14 (Reuters) - Romanian media on Saturday both praised and damned Adrian Mutu after scoring a goal and missing a penalty in a 1-1 draw against Italy at Euro 2008 -- but he won backing from former great Gheorghe Hagi.

'Mutu was an angel and a devil,' summed up Evenimentul Zilei on its front page.

Mutu put Romania ahead 10 minutes into the second half of their Group C clash when he pounced on Gianluca Zambrotta's poor back header but his penalty nine minutes from time was saved, keeping Italy in the tournament.

'I apologise for the missed penalty,' Mutu's told sport daily Gazeta Sporturilor but was quoted in the daily Pro Sport, adding: 'I will take revenge against Netherlands (their final group match on Tuesday.'

Former Romania captain Hagi, arguably the country's best player of the past century, called for understanding and support for Mutu.

'Mutu must forget as soon as possible that he failed to convert his penalty,' Hagi wrote in Pro Sport.

'We must, all of us, encourage him -- the world's best players have all missed important penalties in their life.

'I'm sure that Mutu will play his best match so far against the Netherlands,' Hagi said.

'Romania are playing better and better and now we have our chance to emerge alive from the group of death,' he said.