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Lev Yashin
Levyashin01
Personal information
Full name Lev Ivanovich Yashin
Date of birth 22 October 1929(1929-10-22)
Place of birth    Moscow, Flag of the Soviet Union Soviet Union
Date of death    20 March 1990(1990-03-20) (aged 60)
Place of death    Moscow, Flag of the Soviet Union Soviet Union
Height 1.89 m (6 ft 2 in)
Playing position Goalkeeper
Senior clubs
Years Club App (Gls)
1950-1970 Flag of the Soviet Union Dynamo Moscow 326 00(0)   
National team
1954-1970 Flag of the Soviet Union Soviet Union 078 00(0)

Lev Ivanovich Yashin (22 October 1929 – 20 March 1990) nicknamed as "The Black Spider", was a Soviet-Russian football goalkeeper, considered by many to be the greatest goalkeeper in the history of the game. He was known for his superior athleticism in goal, imposing stature, amazing reflex saves and inventing the idea of goalkeeper sweeping. Yashin was voted the best goalkeeper of the 20th century by the IFFHS.

Life and career

Yashin was born in Moscow into a family of industrial workers. At twelve years of age, the Second World War forced him to turn to factory work to aid in the war effort. He was sent to work in a military factory in Moscow, where he played for its football team. It was there that he was spotted and invited to join the Dynamo Moscow youth team. Yashin’s debut for Dynamo came in 1950 in a friendly match. It was not the debut he would have hoped for, as he conceded a soft goal scored straight from a clearance by the opposing keeper. That year he played in only two league games, and did not appear in a senior match again until 1953. But he remained determined, and stayed at Dynamo in the reserves waiting for another opportunity. Yashin also played goalie for the Dynamo ice hockey team during those early years of trying to break into the senior squad. He managed to win a USSR ice hockey cup in 1953 and was third in the USSR hockey championship as goalkeeper.

He spent his entire professional football career with Dynamo Moscow, from 1950 to 1970, winning the USSR football championship five times and the USSR Cup three times. Yashin’s club team-mate, rival and mentor was Alexei ‘Tiger’ Khomich, the keeper of the Soviet national team, who had become famous for his role in Dynamo Moscow’s British tour.

In 1954, Yashin was finally called up to the national team, and would go on to gather 78 caps. With the national team he won the 1956 Summer Olympics and the 1960 European Championship. He also played in three World Cups, in 1958, 1962 and 1966. The 1958 World Cup, played in Sweden, put Yashin on the map for his performances, with the Soviet Union advancing to the quarter-finals. In a group stage match against the eventual Cup winners Brazil, which the Soviet team lost 2:0, Yashin’s performance prevented the score from becoming a rout. He was selected into the All-Star Team that World Cup. In 1962, despite suffering two concussions during the tournament, he once-again led the team to a quarter-final finish, before losing to host country Chile. That tournament showed that Yashin was all too human, having made some uncharacteristic mistakes. In the game against Colombia, which the Soviet Union was leading 4:1, Yashin let in a few soft goals, including a goal scored by Marcos Coll directly from a corner kick (the first and the only goal scored directly from a corner in FIFA World Cup history). The game finished in a 4:4 tie, which led the French newspaper l'Equipe to predict the end of Yashin’s career. But he would bounce back to win the Ballon d'Or the following year and to lead the Soviet team to its best showing at the 1966 World Cup, a fourth place finish. Always ready to give advice to his comrades, Yashin even made a fourth trip to the World Cup finals in 1970 as the third-choice back-up and an assistant. The Soviet team again reached the quarter-finals. Yashin is credited with four clean sheets out of the 12 games he played in the World Cup finals.

One of his best performances was the 1963 FA Centenary match, when he appeared in the ‘Rest of the World XI’ against England at Wembley Stadium and made a number of breathtaking and almost unbelievable saves. He was known all over the world as the "Black Spider" because he wore a distinctive all-black outfit and because it seemed as though he had eight arms to save almost everything. But to his fans, he was always the fearless "Black Panther". He often played wearing a cloth cap of burnt-brick color. In 1971, in Moscow, he played his last match for Dynamo Moscow. Lev Yashin’s FIFA testimonial match was held at the Lenin Stadium in Moscow with 100,000 fans attending and a host of football stars, including Pelé, Eusébio and Franz Beckenbauer.

Lev Yashin is the only goalkeeper ever to win the European Footballer of the Year Award (1963). He is also believed to have stopped around 150 penalty kicks during his career, far more than any other goalkeeper in history. When asked what his secret was, he would reply that the trick was "to have a smoke to calm your nerves, then toss back a strong drink to tone your muscles."

For his outstanding service to the people and to his country, Yashin was awarded the Order of Lenin in 1967, the highest award of the USSR. After retiring from playing, Yashin spent almost 20 years in various administrative positions at Dynamo Moscow. A Bronze statue of Lev Yashin was erected at the Dynamo Stadium in Moscow.

Lev Yashin died in 1990 of complications caused by an amputation of one of his legs following a knee injury in 1986.

Still, his reputation as a brilliant keeper, a true sportsman, and an innovator of the game lives on. Yashin would always organize the defensive game of his team, often so fiercely that even his wife accused him of yelling too much on the pitch. He rarely captained his teams, as the accepted custom of appointing a goalkeeper captain was virtually unheard-of in that era, but his leadership on the field was always evident. Yashin was one of the goalkeepers that began the practice of punching balls out in difficult situations instead of trying to catch them. Other novel practices he developed were the quick throw of the ball to begin a counterattack, coming out of the penalty area to anticipate danger, and the command and organization of the defenders—practices now quite common among goalkeepers. In 1994, FIFA established the Lev Yashin Award for the best goalkeeper at the World Cup finals. FIFA polls named Yashin as the sole goalkeeper in World Team of the 20th Century. World Soccer Magazine named him in their The 100 Greatest Players of the 20th Century. Many commentators still consider Yashin the best keeper in the history of football, which resulted in the fact he was chosen to be the goalkeeper in most of the world-all-time teams ever written (including the FIFA World Cup All-Time Team and the FIFA Dream Team).

Quotes

Yashin's Grave

Yashin's Grave

"What kind of a goalkeeper is the one who is not tormented by the goal he has allowed? He must be tormented! And if he is calm, that means the end. No matter what he had in the past, he has no future."

"The joy of seeing Yuri Gagarin flying in space is only superseded by the joy of a good penalty save."

"There have only been two world-class goalkeepers. One was Lev Yashin, the other was the German boy who played for Manchester (Bert) Trautmann."

"Yashin plays football better than me"

—Sandro Mazzola after Italy-USSR, where Yashin saved a penalty. 10/11/1963

Statistics

  • 812 career games played
  • estimated to have made over 150 penalty saves during his career
  • 326 games played for Dynamo Moscow main line-up (football team)
  • 78 caps for the USSR national team (70 goals conceded)
  • 12 caps at the World Cup (4 clean sheets)
  • 2 FIFA 'Best of the World XI' appearances (1963-vs England,1968- vs Brazil)
  • FIFA testimonial match (1971)
  • 270 career clean sheets
Club performance League
Season Club League Apps Goals
Soviet Union League
1950 Dynamo Moscow Top League 2 0
1951 0 0
1952 0 0
1953 13 0
1954 24 0
1955 22 0
1956 19 0
1957 12 0
1958 6 0
1959 19 0
1960 18 0
1961 19 0
1962 17 0
1963 27 0
1964 28 0
1965 20 0
1966 8 0
1967 20 0
1968 17 0
1969 22 0
1970 13 0
Country Soviet Union 326 0
Total 326 0
Soviet Union national team
Year Apps Goals
1954 2 0
1955 6 0
1956 8 0
1957 5 0
1958 6 0
1959 2 0
1960 5 0
1961 5 0
1962 7 0
1963 4 0
1964 7 0
1965 5 0
1966 8 0
1967 8 0
Total 78 0

Honours

Soviet Union Dynamo Moscow

Soviet Top League

    • Champions: 1954, 1955, 1957, 1959, 1963
    • Runners-up: 1950, 1956, 1958, 1962, 1967, 1970
  • Soviet Cup
    • Champions: 1953, 1967, 1970
    • Runners-up: 1955

Dynamo Moscow ice hockey team

  • Soviet Cup champions: 1953

Soviet Union

  • FIFA World Cup
    • 4th Place: 1966
  • UEFA European Championships
    • Champions: 1960
    • Runner-up: 1964
  • Olympic Games
    • Gold Medal: 1956

Individual

  • 1960: USSR Goalkeeper of the year
  • 1963: USSR Goalkeeper of the year
  • 1963: European Footballer of the Year
  • 1963: Ballon d'Or the only goal keeper hold the award.
  • 1966: USSR Goalkeeper of the year
  • 1967: Order of Lenin
  • 1986: Olympic Order
  • 1988: FIFA Order of Merit
  • 2000: FIFA World Keeper of the Century
  • 2003: Golden Player of Russia

Personal life

Lev has eight grandchildren the youngest Lev (born 1992) plays in goal for English side Burton Swifts.

Russian Football Union
Flag of Russia Good One Russia
Russian competitions · Russian coaches · Russian players · Russian stadiums
Russian Football Union

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