Rangers ace Ianis Hagi lists surprise heroes including tennis player and reveals who is 'his universe'

Ianis Hagi may be instantly associated with his legendary father Gheorghe - but the Rangers playmaker has revealed he is really a mummy’s boy at heart.

Ianis Hagi has contributed six assists and one goal for Rangers so far this season (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Romanian international Hagi is preparing for a crucial Euro 2020 play-off semi-final against Iceland in Reykjavik on Thursday night.

As he bids to follow in his old man’s footsteps by representing his country at a major tournament finals, the 21-year-old has provided a fascinating insight into those who have inspired him on a career path which currently sees him as one of the key players in Steven Gerrard’s Ibrox squad.

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While Hagi unsurprisingly cites the influence of his dad Gheorghe, regarded as Romania’s greatest player of all time, he says mum Marilena is ‘his universe’ for the way she raised both him and his sister Kira.

"If I had a whole day to talk about my mother, I don't think it would be enough for me,” says Hagi. “My mother is the person who keeps the family together, she takes care of all three of us.

“She was very involved in my education and Kira's, she taught us how to behave and took care to give importance to school.

“She often replaced father, who was often busy with football training. She trained us as people and kept us on our feet. She is my universe, I owe her a lot and I thank her for everything he has done and is doing for me, Kira and for my father.”

Hagi, who has already contributed six assists and one goal in Rangers’ unbeaten start to the season, expresses his admiration for modern-day footballing superstars Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Neymar.

But he models himself on an icon from the 1970s, Dutch legend Johan Cruyff, while he is also inspired by Romanian tennis player Simona Halep, the reigning Wimbledon champion.

“I don’t have a single favourite footballer,” Hagi told RHF Sport in his homeland. “Incredible footballers have always appeared who have fascinated me. From the current generation I was attracted in turn by Ronaldo, when he was at Manchester United, Messi and Neymar. From the last generation I would mention Zinedine Zidane and Michel Platini - I didn't get a chance to see them live, only on YouTube, but they seem sensational to me.

“But apart from those two, I would also mention Johan Cruyff. I watched all the movies on YouTube with Cruyff. From him I had to learn a lot, starting with the style of play and playing the game with both feet.

“In addition, beyond the sports side, Cruyff attracted me to the mentality and education he displayed both on and off the field. I feel that I have a lot in common with Johan Cruyff. I also admire Simona Halep who gives Romanian sport the most oxygen worldwide.”

It is dad Gheorghe, however, who provides the most constant counsel for Hagi as he looks to fulfil his potential in football.

"My father taught me that, in life, what I will receive will depend on how much I give,” he added. “It doesn't matter what you want to do in life, you can be a footballer, actor or painter, it is important to love what you do, to dedicate yourself to your work, believe in yourself and give your best."

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