At the end of March last year, the Czech national football team played a qualifying match for advancement to the World Cup in Qatar against home team Wales. The match was refereed by Romanian professional Ovidiu Hategan, who antagonized the Czech fans by questionably sending off Patrik Schick at the beginning of the second half and by not punishing Welsh star Gareth Bale for a sharp elbow tackle on Ondřej Kúdela.
A year later, sad news came from Romania. Hategan suffered a heart attack and had to undergo surgery, where doctors operated a stent. His refereeing career was in jeopardy and his nomination for the World Cup in Qatar appeared to be gone. But the elite judge did not give up.
At the weekend, in the position of VAR referee, he oversaw the Romanian Super Cup final match between Cluj and Sepsi (1:2). When the referees were receiving their medals after the match, a moment came that apparently the referee, who blew the whistle on a number of matches on the international stage, most notably in the Champions League, did not expect.
Refs can be heroes too. Ovidiu Hategan returned to action as a VAR ref two months after suffering a heart attack.
The fans chanted his name and welcomed him with a big round of applause, as the ref couldn’t hold back tears. You don’t see these kinds of scenes in stadiums often. pic.twitter.com/wZm2EYxLym
– Emanuel Rosu (@Emishor) July 12, 2022
He was first applauded by the man who was presenting him with the award, which made the whole stadium applaud, which then started chanting his name. Hategan then hugged his colleagues and tears of emotion began to flow down his cheeks. He has yet to reveal whether this match completely restarted his career.