I’ve always had a fascination with athletes- particularly baseball and soccer players- who are willing to go anywhere and play for any team/club they can find just to keep their career going. Usually these players are just good enough to earn themselves a shot at making a team, but not quite good enough to stay on the team. They also usually get just enough of a taste of success to keep chasing it- no matter what that entails. Today I may have stumbled on the “winner” in this competition. One thing to keep in mind is that the player in question is still only 33, and if the past is indeed prologue, he his nowhere near being done with his career. Ladies and gentleman, I give you Moldovan international midfielder Valeriu Andronic.
First, let me note that he began his professional career at age sixteen, and made his first appearance for the Moldovan National Team at the age of 18. In short, he got an early start.
Andronic began his career with Zimbru Chisinau in the Moldovan top flight where he scored 20 times in 52 matches, won a league title, and played in the Champions League. This earned him a move to Romania where he played- 4 times- for Dinamo Bucuresti. After his season in Romania he moved to Hungary where he played a single season for MTK Hungaria, despite having signed a two year contract. From Hungary it was back to Moldova for two seasons at FCM Campina, a club that no longer exists. While at Campina he was sent out on a season long loan at Dinamo Moscow (not sure how that happened!), but never made a first team appearance for the Russian power. After two seasons at Campina he moved to another Moldovan club, CS Tiligul-Tiras Tiraspol, a club that no longer exists. After a season there (see a pattern developing?) it was off to Ukraine to play for FC Metalist Kharkiv. While at Metalist he also spent a short time on loan at Russian side FC Oryol. Next it was back home to Moldova for a season with FC Politehnica Chisinau. Then back to Romania for a season at FC Progresul Bucuresti. This was followed by a quick move across the capital for a season with now-defunct CS Inter Gaz Bucuresti.
To this point, Valeriu had played (more on that in a moment) for 11 clubs in 5 different countries. Since leaving his first club, Zimbru Chisinau, he had not played more than 18 league matches in a single season nor scored more than 5 goals in a season. He also made his National Team debut while with MTK Hungaria and participated in qualification matches for the 2002 World Cup. And, believe it or not, his career was about to blossom…relatively speaking.
After leaving Inter Gaz he once again- and inexplicably- returned to the Russian First Division with FC Baltika Kaliningrad. He only played seven matches there, but that was enough to get him a contract at FK Bohemians Prague in the Czech top tier. Eighteen matches with FK earned him a move to…Kazkhstan! In a banner season with FC Astana he played in 28 matches, scored 7 goals, and was part of a cup winning side. Using this success as a springboard he returned to the Russian First Division with FC SKA-Khabarovsk where he played in 22 matches scoring…no goals, and ending his career renaissance. Time to head home…
Returning to Moldova he went to work for FC Iskra-Stal Ribnita– in the Moldovan third division- in the breakaway region/partially recognized state of Transnistria. Is it Moldova? Russia? Ukraine? The answer is easy- Yes. But also no. Anyway, it’s nobody’s first choice for football or anything else. Andronic realized this and went back to where it all began, Zimbru Chisinau. For five matches. Apparently you cannot go home again, but you can go to Tajikistan! Andronic’s next club was FK Khujand where he only played in six matches, but scored three goals. Apparently this was enough to restore his good name in Moldova and he returned to Chisinau (how many clubs can one city have?!) to play for FC Veris Chisinau in the Moldovan top flight. After only three matches (c’mon, Valeriu!) he moved on another club in the top division, FC Costuleni…for two matches. Clearly needing a change of scenery it was off to Malkiya SCC– in Bahrain! I cannot, however, find any evidence that he ever actually played for them. This is making me tired, I’m going to speed through the rest: FC Milsami Orhei (Moldovan top division) for three matches, FC Petrocub Hincesti (Moldovan top division) for ten(!) matches, and finally, he is currently with FC Academia Chisinau for whom he has played one match in 2016-2017.
So, let’s sum things up.
Andronic played for his first club, Zimbru Chisinau, as a 16 year old in 1998 and he is now 33 (he does not turn 34 until the end of December). In those eighteen calendar years he has played for 23 clubs (counting both spells at Zimbru as one club) in 8 countries. Of these 23 clubs he played in less than ten matches for fifteen of them! Yet, somehow, he managed to play for some of the top teams (Dinamo Bucuresti, MTK Hungaria, Dinamo Moscow, and Metalist Kharkiv) in Central and Eastern Europe and in several European club competitions, AND represent his country 35 times- so far! That said, in all of this time he’s never been part of a league winning side and only been part of one cup winning side, but I guess that makes sense- a club competing for silverware probably doesn’t ask its scouting department to, “Find Valeriu Andronic and get him here NOW!”
I know I’ve come across players who’ve played for as many clubs and in as many countries, but I can’t think of anyone who has done both and who could keep playing for another five or more years!
Now, what channel carries matches in the Moldovan National Division!?