BUCHAREST: Gheorghe ‘Gica’ Popescu, former Romania World Cup captain, has been sentenced to three years and one month in prison for tax evasion and money laundering between 1999 and 2005.

The verdict was delivered by the Romania Court of Appeal after Popescu, among seven other major local football personalities, had contested an earlier conviction.

The 46-year-old former PSV, Tottenham, Barcelona and Galatasaray midfielder was convicted originally in November 2012. The others included the then Steaua sporting director, Mihai Stoica.

Prosecutors had claimed that illicit dealing in the transfers of players to foreign clubs between 1999 and 2005 had caused tax losses worth €1m and club losses worth around €7m.

Popescu was a key member of the outstanding Romanian national team at the World Cups of 1990, 1994 and 1998.