Cast aside by Fiorentina and Genoa, Ianis Hagi is finally beginning to step out of the shadow of his world famous footballing father, at Glasgow Rangers.
The 21-year-old is the son of the legendary Gheorghe Hagi, and is making great progress with excellent goals and performances for the Scottish giants. Announcing himself on the Ibrox stage, the Romanian's brace helped Rangers to come from two goals down to beat Portuguese side Braga 3-2 in the Europa League first-leg, before his side won 1-0 in Portgual to progress to the last-16 of the competition.
"His dad was here tonight, and I am sure he will be proud of that performance", a beaming Steven Gerrard said in a press conference after as he saw his side overturn a two-goal deficit in the first game.
Hagi the younger joined his father’s football academy at the age of 10, and developed alongside 300 other youngsters. Ianis progressed through the ranks and made his first-team debut for Viitorul Constanța at the age of just 16 back in December 2014. Nominated for the European Golden Boy award two years later, Fiorentina swooped for his services. Spending two seasons in Italy, his game time was limited and he moved back home to re-join Viitorul Constanța.
It was from there where he headed to Belgium to link up with Genk before Gerrard swooped for his services. Ianis could have easily have changed career paths though, with his sister Kira an actress. The attacking midfielder also has a taste for television and donned the character Viktor in the animated movie Frankenweenie in 2019. Thankfully, he stuck with football.
Ianis Hagi scores what could be a crucial goal for the Ibrox side.
His father Gheorghe loves it! 😊
Ianis has already been capped for Romania but has a long way to go should he reach 124 appearances, the amount his father clocked up. Born in Istanbul, whilst his dad was playing for Galatasaray, he has featured in all the age groups for the Romanian national side from 13 years upwards.
His father believes he could go on to emulate him in years to come and claims that one day he may just be Romania's greatest player.
“Carrying the surname Hagi on your jersey certainly brings with it a certain pressure. But I was born with this pressure, so it's not something that creates problems for me any longer. I am sure that Lanis will have a great career, he's an ideal No.10. I hope that he can become better than I was," Hagi Snr told Goal.
Nearly two decades after retiring from international football, the 55-year-old remains Romania’s top scorer with 35 goals from 125 caps. Ianis has already proved his worth amongst Rangers fans and assistant manager Gary McAllister has hinted that the club will look to sign him permanently when his six-month contract comes to an end.
It's not only the name on the back of the shirt but the attributes which make him walk out of his dad's shadow. His dribbling skills, passing, two-footedness and playmaking ability are just some of the key elements to his game, but his goals for Rangers have proven he is very quick, agile, has great vision, technique as well as an eye for goal.
Since his move to Scotland, he has netted three goals and even missed a spot-kick in the Europa League second-leg last-32 tie against Braga, so could have made it four in three games. Hagi has hailed his father’s influence in which Gheorge has played a key role in his current presence.
"My father was, obviously, a great champion and he is my mentor, but if I had to choose a role model, I would pick an athlete from another sport - Stephen Curry", he told Goal previously. "I like him because he's managed to make it in the NBA even though nobody believed in him, because he was small, and through his hard work and dedication, he managed to become one of the strongest players in the world.”
Still, only 21, he is in stellar company. No doubt both his father and Gerrard will keep his feet firmly on the ground but will guide him too. And who know's where their guidance could take him...