Cristeas professional career started in 2002 in his hometown at Politehnica Iaşi in Divizia B, the second division of Romania. In his first year, he completed 27 games and scored five goals. In his second season, the club promotion to the Divizia A. His debut in the first division he gave on 30 July 2004 in the 1-2 defeat against Rapid Bucharest.
With good performances for Dinamo Bucharest Iasi became aware of the right midfielder. During the winter break of 2004/ 05 he finally moved to the capital club. After initial problems at Dinamo with only 25 missions in two years, he grew to become first-team regular. For the season 2006/ 07 he made at the international level for headlines when he was able to achieve three goals in ten games in the UEFA Cup.
After six years Cristea Dinamo left in January 2011 and joined the league rivals Universitatea Cluj. In summer 2012, he moved to Petrolul Ploiesti, half a year later, he moved for half a year on loan at Standard Liege in Belgium. Upon his return, the reigning Romanian champions Steaua Bucharest took him under contract.
In January 2014 his contract was dissolved in Bucharest and Cristea joined on a free transfer to the Israeli first division team Hapoel Petah Tikva. He signed a contract until the summer of 2014.
His debut in the Romanian national football team gave Cristea on 7 February 2007 against Moldova. For the 2008 European Football Championship in Switzerland and Austria, he was appointed to the levy of the Romanians of coach Victor Piţurcă. The team already retired from the group stage. Cristea graduated there no minutes, and was only a spectator. After the tournament, Cristea was no longer considered by Piţurcă and returned only under his successor Razvan Lucescu early September 2009 back to the national team. After two appearances in the World Cup qualifiers he had to again wait for the next nomination two years. The European Championship qualifier against Belarus on 7 October 2011 was also his last international match.
- Romanian champions: 2007
- Romanian Cup Winners: 2005
- Rise in Divizia A: 2004