Romania winger Catalin Fercu has revealed he pulled out of the World Cup squad at the last minute due to a fear of flying.
Fercu, one of Romania's best players, stunned his team-mates and coaches by withdrawing from the squad as they departed for New Zealand on Tuesday.
In an interview with the Evenimentul Zilei newspaper, Fercu said he had raised the issue with coach Romeo Gontineac, but claims he was ignored. He said: "It is an old problem and I cannot get over it. After the last flight I made, I swore I would never get on a plane again."
He added: "I said this earlier, at the start of training, telling the federation leaders and the coach Romeo Gontineac, but perhaps I was not taken seriously.
"I will consider playing for the national team again, but only if I can travel by road. The games in Europe I do not think would be such a problem because the distances are not so great."
Romania faced a 40-hour journey to New Zealand, travelling via Vienna and Dubai to Christchurch, and the schedule proved too much for Fercu.
"After several discussions Catalin told us he could not get over the fear that he has for a plane flight," said Romanian federation president Alin Petrache.
"I tried in every way to convince him to go but we could not."
Fercu is now likely to face disciplinary action over the incident.
He has been replaced in the squad by Adrian Apostol.