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The best goalkeepers in history - Lev Jašin

10 Jun 2018

After a short break, we bring you another of the articles dedicated to the best goalkeepers of all time. This time we head east, to the now defunct Soviet Union, to look at the career of arguably the best goalkeeper in history - Lev Yashin.


A late start

A native of Moscow, born in October 1929, he started playing football an unusually long time ago. As a teenager, he was employed in war factories, where during breaks he played football with his colleagues on the patch behind the factory. It was there that people from Dynamo Moscow noticed him. He was 18 years old at the time. Lev went through the youth team and only caught up with the boys for the first time in 1950, i.e. in his 20s. However, the match did not go well for him, so he did not get another opportunity to show his qualities until 3 years later. In the meantime, the Russian goalkeeper also devoted himself to other sports, especially hockey. He has been playing since 1945, also as a goalkeeper. Despite the fact that he was given more space in the hockey goal, he decided to give preference to football in the end.

Soccer players

"What kind of goalkeeper is not frustrated by a missed goal? He must be in agony! And if it isn't, that means the end. Regardless of what he has experienced before, he is not worthy of the future.”

Lev Jashin

Black spider

The turning point came in 1953/54. At that time, Jašin was driven forward by his team rival, Valter Sanaya, who entered the season as the clear number one, but during the course of the year, he lost his position between the posts, and instead Lev got into the game. Thanks to his great performances, he secured a position in the starting line-up for the next season, which is why Sanaya was forced to transfer. Perhaps it was the transfer of his biggest rival in life that contributed to even better goalkeeping performances. It was during this period that Leo began to be called the "Black Spider" because of his aggressiveness, speed, reflexes and foresight. Dynamo was extremely successful this season mainly because of two members of the team - Vladimir Ilyin, who scored 11 league goals and thus won the golden boot, and Lvo Yashin, who received only 20 competitive goals, so Dynamo Moscow could boast the best defense of the year. Lev took his first title as the best goalkeeper in the entire Soviet Union.

Titled King

However, he entered the world chronicles only in 1958, when he went to the WC in Sweden. Here in the group, he averted a humiliating loss in an incredibly tense match against the Brazilian canaries, as the number of goals conceded stopped at two. The Soviet Union eventually made it to the quarter-finals, where they were eliminated by the home team. 2 years later, he went to France with the national team to participate in the very first European Championship. The Soviet Union went through the entire tournament like a knife through butter, and that's how Lev Yashin became the first ever European champion. In 1962, at the World Cup in Chile, he again reached the quarter-finals in the colors of the USSR, where he was again eliminated with the home team. This championship was not successful twice for the Lion, as in the match against Colombia, he let several unnecessary goals behind his back. Among them is the historically only goal scored directly from a corner kick at the World Cup. Despite these setbacks, he continued to thrive in the club environment. With Dynamo, he was able to win the league in 1955, 1957, 1959 and 1963. In the last mentioned season, he managed to win the Golden Ball award, so Lev is still the only goalkeeper who can be proud of this title. In 1966, he fought for another world title in England, this time reaching the semi-finals, where the Soviets lost to the West Germans. He ended his professional career in 1970, but still did not leave the world of football completely, he spent the rest of his life in the management of Dynamo Moscow, where he worked until his death in 1990.

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