Ștefan Birtalan

Ştefan Birtalan (born 25 September 1948) is a former Romanian handball player, coach and sports official.

Ștefan Birtalan
Personal information
Born (1948-09-25) 25 September 1948 (age 72)
Jibou, Romania[1]
Nationality Romanian
Height 194 cm (6 ft 4 in)
Playing position Left back
Senior clubs
Years Team
Rapid CFR Jibou
Minerul Baia Mare
Steaua Bucharest
Tuscany Follonica
National team
Years Team Apps (Gls)
Romania 231 (993)
Teams managed
Steaua Bucharest (assistant)
Steaua Bucharest

Birtalan was one of the best players of his time and was named the World Player of the Year in 1974, 1976 and 1977.[2] He spent most of his club career with Steaua București, winning with them 12 Romanian championships and the European Champions Cup in 1977. He also won the world title in 1970 and 1974, becoming the top scorer at the 1974 tournament with 43 goals. He participated in the 1972, 1976 and 1980 Olympics winning one silver and bronze medals.[1][3]


Birtalan is of Hungarian descent through his father István. His mother was Romanian and her name was Valeria.[4]

As a teenager he trained in handball, volleyball, basketball and athletics. He debuted in handball aged 16 with the team Rapid CFR Jibou. In 1966, he moved to Baia Mare to study civil engineering. There he first played volleyball and in 1967 changed to handball. From 1970 to 1985 he competed for Steaua Bucharest, with an interruption between 1981 and 1983. With Steaua he won the 1977 EHF Champions League title, finishing second in 1971, and 12 national titles. In 1966, he was included to the junior and in 1968 to the senior national handball team.[3]

At the end of his career Birtalan spent one year in Italy as player-coach in 1985–86. After returning to Romania he worked with the national junior team, and in 1991–1994 was head coach at Steaua. In 1994 he accepted a coaching position in Qatar. Between 1999 and 2002 he again coached Steaua, bringing it to the national titles in 2000 and 2001. In 2002 he retired from coaching due to health problems, and became a sport administrator.[3]

International achievements

National achievements


Steaua București
  • Romanian National League:
    • Winner: 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1984, 1985
  • Romanian Cup:
    • Winner: 1981, 1985


Steaua București

Individual awards and honours

  • 3× Romanian Sportsman of the Year: 1974, 1976, 1977


  1. "Ştefan Birtalan Biography and Olympic Results". Sports Reference. Archived from the original on 17 April 2020. Retrieved 11 February 2012.
  2. "Handball legend amazed by CL final". European Handball Federation. 27 May 2009. Archived from the original on 11 August 2017. Retrieved 11 February 2012.
  3. Ştefan Birtalan. cosr.ro
  4. "INTERVIU Ştefan Birtalan, fost campion mondial la handbal" (in Romanian). Adevărul. 23 April 2016.