Cosmin Contra

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Cosmin Contra
Contra as manager of Romania in 2018
Personal information
Full name Cosmin Marius Contra [1]
Date of birth (1975-12-15) 15 December 1975 (age 47) [1]
Place of birth Timișoara, Romania [1]
Height 1.80 m (5 ft 11 in) [1]
Position(s) Right-back, midfielder
Team information
Current team
Damac (manager)
Youth career
1988–1993 Politehnica Timișoara
Senior career*
1993–1995 Politehnica Timișoara 51 (1)
1996–1999 Dinamo București 101 (8)
1999–2001 Alavés 66 (5)
2001–2002 Milan 29 (3)
2002–2006 Atlético Madrid 34 (0)
2004–2005West Bromwich Albion (loan) 5 (0)
2005Politehnica Timișoara (loan) 14 (0)
2005–2006Getafe (loan) 24 (0)
2006–2010 Getafe 60 (3)
2010Politehnica Timișoara (loan) 13 (3)
2010–2011 Politehnica Timișoara 9 (1)
International career
1996–2010 Romania 73 (7)
Managerial career
2010 Politehnica Timișoara
2012 Fuenlabrada
2012–2014 Petrolul Ploiești
2014–2015 Getafe
2015 Guangzhou R&F
2016 Alcorcón
2017 Dinamo București
2017–2019 Romania
2020 Dinamo București
2021–2022 Al-Ittihad
2023– Damac
*Club domestic league appearances and goals

Cosmin Marius Contra (Romanian pronunciation:  [kosˈmin ˈ ˈkontra] ; born 15 December 1975) is a Romanian football manager and former player. He is the current manager of Saudi Arabian club Damac.


Primarily an attacking-minded right-back, he was also deployed as a midfielder. He played professionally in three countries his own notwithstanding, mainly Spain where he appeared for Alavés, Atlético Madrid and Getafe, amassing La Liga totals of 188 games and eight goals. A Romania international for nearly 15 years, he represented the nation in two European Championships.

As a coach, Contra won the Cupa României with Petrolul Ploiești in 2013 and the Cupa Ligii with Dinamo București four years later. In September 2017, he was appointed at the helm of the Romania national team.

Playing career


Politehnica and Dinamo

Born in Timișoara, Cosmin Contra started his professional career at local club Politehnica Timișoara, making his Divizia A debut under coach Costică Ștefănescu on 27 February 1994 at age 18 in a 1–0 victory in the West derby against UTA Arad. [2] [3] [4] At the end of his first season they were relegated to Divizia B, but he stayed with the side, promoting back after one year. Midway through 1995–96, he signed for Dinamo București at the request of coach Cornel Dinu. [2] [3] [4] During his period with the Red Dogs he failed to win any trophy, the team's best performance during his stay being a runner-up finish in 1998–99; he also made his debut in European competitions, appearing in four matches in the 1996 UEFA Intertoto Cup and two in the 1997–98 UEFA Cup. [2]


After three and a half campaigns with Dinamo, Contra was transferred for $800,000 to Deportivo Alavés in the Spanish La Liga. [5] He was an important part in the Basques' runner-up run in the UEFA Cup, [6] his performances earning him in a place in the UEFA Team of the Year. [7]

Contra scored eight goals in all competitions during his spell at the Mendizorrotza Stadium. In December 2021, as the club celebrated its 100th birthday, he was voted its best-ever right-back by newspaper Noticias de Álava. [8]

Milan and Atlético

In the summer of 2001, Contra moved to Italian club A.C. Milan, but his spell there lasted only one season. In September 2002 he returned to Spain and joined Atlético Madrid, [9] appearing very rarely in the 2003–04 campaign due to a serious ankle condition; [10] while still with Milan, he was suspended after a scuffle with Juventus's Edgar Davids. [11]

Contra signed for West Bromwich Albion on loan in August 2004, [12] making his debut in a 2–1 defeat at Colchester United in the second round of the Football League Cup on 21 September. [13] His maiden Premier League appearance occurred almost two months later, when they lost 2–1 at home against Middlesbrough. [14]

Overall, the loan was not particularly successful, with Contra playing just six games and receiving a red card in his last match, a 0–5 home loss to Liverpool. [15] He then returned to his country and Liga I, at the club which brought him up as a player, Politehnica Timișoara, where he managed to be recalled to the national side due to his good performances. [5]


Contra with Getafe in 2009 Contra.JPG
Contra with Getafe in 2009

Contra returned to Spain in August 2005, agreeing to a season-long loan with Getafe [16] which was subsequently made permanent (he was supposed to have arrived at the Coliseum Alfonso Pérez before, but the move was blocked because the squad had too many non-EU players, and his compatriot Gheorghe Craioveanu only ceased to be considered a foreigner the same year). [17] He was used regularly by the Madrid outskirts side, battling for a first-team slot with David Cortés. [5]

In the 2007–08 UEFA Cup, Contra netted in both legs of the quarter-final tie against Bayern Munich, which ended in a 4–4 aggregate elimination after extra time. [18] Earlier in the competition, he scored a penalty kick against AEK Athens, [19] appearing in that match even though his father had died just hours before. [20]

Later career

In late January 2010, after being ousted from the starting XI by manager Míchel, Contra left Getafe and returned to his country, rejoining hometown's Politehnica Timișoara initially until June. [21] [5] On 26 February he made his debut in his second spell for the club, scoring from a 30-yard free kick in the last minute of the 2–1 victory over Politehnica Iași. [22] Two months later, at Steaua București, he again found the net from two set pieces, one from a penalty (3–3 draw); [23] during his second stint, he played mainly as a central midfielder.

On 29 August 2010, Contra scored again from a free kick and again against Steaua, in a late 1–1 equaliser. [24] His contract expired the following day, and on 9 September he agreed to a new deal, [25] being announced as new player-coach six days later. [26] His last game as a player took place on 13 November 2010, in a 1–1 home draw with Unirea Urziceni. [2] [4]


Contra earned 73 caps for Romania and scored seven goals, making his debut on 24 April 1996 at the age of 20 when coach Anghel Iordănescu sent him on the field in the 65th minute in order to replace captain Gheorghe Hagi in a friendly against Georgia which ended with a 5–0 victory. [4] [27] [28] [29] He played three games in the Euro 2000 qualifiers, being selected by Emerich Jenei to be part of the final tournament squad, where he was used as a starter the first three matches, helping the team pass the group stage, but did not play in the 2–0 loss to Italy in the quarter-finals, being suspended after receiving two yellow cards in the previous fixtures. [4] [27] He made nine appearances and netted twice in the 2002 FIFA World Cup qualifying phase, one in a 2–0 away victory over Georgia and one in the second leg of the play-off against Slovenia which was lost 3–2 on aggregate. [4] [27]

Contra made six appearances in the Euro 2004 qualifiers, scoring a hat-trick in the 7–0 away rout of Luxembourg, playing six times in the 2006 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign. [27] [30] He contributed six matches and two goals, one in a 3–0 victory against Luxembourg and one in the 2–0 defeat of Slovenia in qualification for Euro 2008, being used in the final tournament by manager Victor Pițurcă in all the minutes as his side failed to progress from their group. [27]

Contra played four games in the 2010 World Cup qualifiers and, on 1 April 2009, after a match with Austria, he announced his retirement from international football; however, on 30 August 2010, the 34-year-old was recalled by manager Răzvan Lucescu for the Euro 2012 qualifiers, making his last appearance in a 1–1 against Albania. [27] [31]

Coaching career

Early career

Contra made his Timișoara debut as a manager in September 2010, with a win against Sportul Studențesc București. [32] Even though the team never lost a game under his guidance, he was sacked after 11 matches – six wins, five draws – because of a conflict with the club's owner. [33]

Contra returned to Spain in July 2012, being appointed at Segunda División B side Fuenlabrada. [34] He started the campaign well and, after ten rounds, the team found themselves in a play-off position; however, after an offer from FC Petrolul Ploiești in his homeland arrived, he asked to be released from his contract. [35]


Contra took over at Petrolul in October 2012, replacing Mircea Rednic. In his first season he reached the final of the Romanian Cup, defeating CFR Cluj 1–0; [36] additionally, the club finished third in the domestic league, thus securing qualification to the Europa League after an 18-year-absence.

Petrolul managed to knock out Víkingur Gøta in the Europa League second qualifying round and Vitesse Arnhem in the third, but were eliminated in the play-offs by Swansea City after being bested 5–1 in Wales and winning 2–1 at home. [37]


On 10 March 2014, Contra returned to Getafe and the Spanish top flight after four years, replacing Luis García who was fired after a long run of bad results which led the team to only a point above the relegation zone, and without a league win since November. [38] [39] His first match in charge came four days later, a 3–3 home draw against Granada. [40] They finally won a game on the penultimate day of the month, emerging victorious at Valencia 3–1. [41]

On 19 May 2014, Contra confirmed survival for the side after a 2–1 win away win over Rayo Vallecano. [42]

Guangzhou R&F

On 18 December 2014, Contra was named as the new manager of Guangzhou R&F, replacing Sven-Göran Eriksson. [43] He began working officially for the club on 4 January of the following year. [44]

Alcorcón and Dinamo Bucharest

On 15 June 2016, Contra was appointed at Alcorcón. [45] He was relieved of his duties on 12 October. [46]

In February 2017, Contra became Dinamo Bucharest's new coach. [47] He led the team to their first trophy in five years by winning the Cupa Ligii [48] but, after advances from the Romanian Football Federation, he resigned from his post on 16 September. [49]

Romania national team

On 17 September 2017, following Christoph Daum's dismissal, Contra was revealed as the new manager of Romania with the objective of qualifying for Euro 2020. [50] His first game in charge was on 5 October, a 3–1 win in Ploiești against Kazakhstan in the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers. [51]

In November 2019, after the team could only finish in fourth place in the Euro 2020 qualifying phase behind Spain, Sweden and Norway, the Romanian Football Federation announced Contra would no longer continue on the bench. [52] [53]

Return to Dinamo

Contra returned to Dinamo Bucharest in August 2020, signing a two-year contract. [54] He left on 3 December due to the club's financial problems. [55]


On 29 August 2021, Contra was appointed as manager of Al-Ittihad in the Saudi Professional League. [56] His team led the league by 16 points over Al Hilal in February but ended the season two points behind that team, who he lost to twice. [57]

Contra was dismissed by the Jeddah-based club in early July 2022, and replaced by Nuno Espírito Santo. [58]


On 6 March 2023, Contra joined Damac of the same country and league. [59]

Career statistics


Scores and results list Romania's goal tally first, score column indicates score after each Contra goal.
List of international goals scored by Cosmin Contra [27]
128 March 2001 Boris Paichadze, Tbilisi, Georgia Flag of Georgia (1990-2004).svg  Georgia 2–02–0 2002 World Cup qualification
214 November 2001 Ghencea, Bucharest, RomaniaFlag of Slovenia.svg  Slovenia 1–11–1 2002 World Cup qualification – Playoffs
316 October 2002 Josy Barthel, Luxembourg, LuxembourgFlag of Luxembourg.svg  Luxembourg 4–07–0 Euro 2004 qualifying
628 March 2007 Stadionul Ceahlăul, Piatra Neamț, RomaniaFlag of Luxembourg.svg  Luxembourg 2–03–0 Euro 2008 qualifying
76 June 2007 Dan Păltinișanu, Timișoara, RomaniaFlag of Slovenia.svg  Slovenia 2–02–0Euro 2008 qualifying

Managerial statistics

As of 27 May 2023 [60] [61] [62] [63]
Managerial record by team and tenure
Politehnica Timișoara Flag of Romania.svg 15 September 20105 December 2010147612214+8050.00
Fuenlabrada Flag of Spain.svg 21 July 201229 October 2012115331816+2045.45
Petrolul Ploiești Flag of Romania.svg 29 October 201210 March 201458332059948+51056.90
Getafe Flag of Spain.svg 10 March 20144 January 201530108123035−5033.33
Guangzhou R&F Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg 4 January 201522 July 20153097143745−8030.00
Alcorcón Flag of Spain.svg 15 June 201612 October 20161143469−3036.36
Dinamo București Flag of Romania.svg 16 February 201718 September 20172815764124+17053.57
Romania Flag of Romania.svg 22 September 201718 November 20192413653926+13054.17
Dinamo București Flag of Romania.svg 26 August 20203 December 2020113261413+1027.27
Al-Ittihad Flag of Saudi Arabia.svg 29 August 20214 July 20223020556231+31066.67
Damac Flag of Saudi Arabia.svg 6 March 2023Present136251419−5046.15



Politehnica Timișoara





Petrolul Ploiești

Dinamo București


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