BY ALAN TEMPLE – Capital City Press
Gregory Tade has assured Inverness that they have nothing to fear from Astra Giurgiu – despite the Romanians boasting a former teammate of Ronaldinho in their ranks.
Tade, who starred for the Scottish Cup holders during the 2011/12 campaign, is currently on the books of Steaua Bucharest after netting 20 goals in the last two seasons with CFR Cluj.
As a consequence, the 28-year-old is no stranger to crossing swords with Astra on the domestic scene and he was more than happy to do some impromptu scouting on behalf of his former club.
The powerful striker acknowledges that the current Astra side is very different animal from the one which faced Celtic twice in the Europa League last term and he believes the pace and physicality of John Hughes’ outfit could be pivotal.
Tade, the top scorer in Romania last season, said: “I don’t have any worries for Inverness. I know the way Scottish football is – even the teams that play good football also need to be fit and physical.
“They don’t like that in Romania, so if Inverness can work hard, fight hard and also play some nice football then they have a fantastic chance.
“Inverness should not have any fear. The results in the last three years prove they are now one of the top teams in the Scottish Premiership. They have been finishing in the top six comfortably and even spending time in second or first place.
“That shows how good the club is and I would love to see them do well in Europe.”
Despite harbouring high hopes for Inverness, Tade admits Astra still possess plenty of quality in their ranks, including Filipe Teixeira, who played alongside samba star Ronaldinho at Paris Saint-Germain.
And he revealed that the pressure back in Romania is all on Astra to progress amid high expectations and financial pressures at the club.
He continued: “Astra have good experience and they have big players. Not many players in Scotland, for example, can say they played with Ronaldinho – which Teixeira can. He is very talented and could be a danger.
“They are technical and tactically aware and have some good prospects in Romanian football.
“However, that does bring pressure. They are expected to win and they know that getting into the group stages of the Europa League is very important to balance the books.”
Tade, who starred in Steaua’s 2-0 Champions League qualifying round win over Trencin on Tuesday, still has fond memories from his time in the Highlands and attempts to stay in contact with the likes of Greg Tansey, Jonny Hayes and Graeme Shinnie.
He was over the moon when Hughes led the club to their first ever Scottish Cup triumph last season – even if the challenges of keeping track of the fixture list from Romania proved too much for him.
He laughed: “I tweeted that I was watching Inverness in the Scottish Cup final when they played against Celtic in the final league match of the season – I felt like a fool!”