Hagi, Dobrin or Balaci? Who is the best from the history of Romanian football? The truth is that, if you didn’t see every one of them playing, it’s very hard to give a certain verdict. But even if there are people who admired them all, it’s unlikely that the same men managed to also see another legendary Romanian footballer: Iosif Petschovsky, or Peci oe Ciala, as he was known by his nick names. Some voices tell us that he was and still remains from far the most complete player from the history of Romania.
Iosif was born on 2nd of July 1921 at Timisoara and he started playing football in his native town in 1939, at the prestigious Chinezul, but which was in the second division at that time. After two years there, which were interrupted by a short period at CAM, he went on playing at CA Oradea, team at which he stood until 1944 under the name of Jozsef Perenyi and in his last season there he became champion of… Hungary, as that region was then ocupied by mMagyars. Finally, in 1946 he arrived at UTA Arad, the club where Iosif won his first Romanian titles: 1947, 1948 and 1950. He played 94 games and scored 34 goals in the first league in five seasons, facts that attracted CCA’s interest, a new founded team, the ancestor of Steaua Bucharest. In fact, he arrived here being forced, because he was oliged, at 31 years to fulfill his military service. In three years spent at CCA, he became twice Romanian champion and once runner up, but played only 50 games and netted in 19. So, in 1955 he returned to Arad, where he played until the end of his career, which meant 1961, when he was 40! He didn’t win any other trophies with UTA, but did score another 35 goals in 133 matches, numbers that arose him to a total of 279 games and 88 goals in the Romanian top flight.
Petschovsky’s first appearance in the first tier happened on 2nd of June 1940, when Chinezul beat 4-1 Rapid Bucharest. Also, when he was playing for Oradea, the uncertainty that dominated those years, made him choose to play for the national team of Hungary, because Oradea was playing in the Magyar league. Iosif made three appearances in 1942 and 1943, but didn’t score any goals. He did however score for Romania, country for which he chose to play since 1945, when he was 24 years old. The last of his 32 caps was in 1958, when he was 37!
Most of his celebrity was brought by his style of playing, because Iosif could play very well in every position of the field, without mattering if it is in attack, midfield or defense. Being a central midfielder originally, he even ended up once playing as a goalkeeper, despite measuring only 1.68 meters! Those were many of his good parts, but Petschovsky wasn’t perfect, because in 1947 he was suspended for three months, because before a friendly game between Romania and Poland he was caught betting on the opponents! But he did score 11 times for Romania and his popularity was so big in the ’40, that in 1946 a Magyar footballer stole his identity and that helped him to play at Strasbourg for a short while! After five years, Iosif also became the first Romanian football player to appear for a World Team, alongside with the biggest names from those times.
After retiring he trained UTA for only one season, 1962-1963, after which he quit football for good. Unfortunately, the fact that he had a very sportive life (besides football he also was an ace in table tennis, sport at which he was champion of Arad) didn’t help him too much, as if he died of cancer, in 1968, when he had only 47 years.