Biography of Lev Yashin
The name of Lev Ivanovich Yashin is inscribed in golden letters in the history of not only Soviet but world sports. The legendary football player, the unsurpassed goalkeeper of Dynamo and the USSR national team, who received the Golden Ball award, rightfully became one of the best athletes of the 20th century and the best goalkeeper according to FIFA and IFFIIS. Throughout his career, he played 540 matches and conceded 432 goals.
The best goalkeeper of the 20th century Lev Yashin
Childhood and youth
The future legend of Russian football was born on October 22, 1929 in one of the then outlying districts of Moscow. Most of his childhood was spent in house number 15 on Millionnaya Street.
The house where Lev Yashin spent his childhood
Lev’s parents, Ivan Petrovich and Anna Mitrofanovna Yashin, were simple artisans. She worked at the Krasny Bogatyr factory, he worked at an aircraft factory in Tushino.
Childhood photo of Lev Yashin
Their son grew up as a big fan of outdoor sports games. The first football academy of Leo was the native yard, and the neighbor boys became the team. They played on a bald patch of uneven ground in front of the entrance. In winter, the children themselves turned the site into a skating rink and played the puck. Already at that time, his “role of a goalkeeper” had developed, however, he had to defend not a goal with a net, but the space between two cobblestones.
Leo’s mother died early. The father grieved for a long time, but wisely judged that the boy needed a mother. So Alexandra Petrovna appeared in their family, who became Leo’s second mother. In 1939, his younger brother Borya was born.
Young Lev Yashin (above) with his father, stepmother and brother
In the summer of 1941, 11-year-old Leo was sent as usual to relatives near Podolsk. He was already looking forward to catching fish, chasing a ball with the village children and picking mushrooms, but the holidays were interrupted by the war. The boy, together with his stepmother, returned to Moscow, from where they were evacuated to the region, near Voskresensk, and then the father’s factory and the families of the workers were sent to the rear – to Ulyanovsk.
Lev called the day of the evacuation the last day of his childhood. I had to go through a lot: hunger, cold, long hours of hard work. And in the spring of 1943, the boy who had recently played Cossack robbers became a full-fledged worker at the plant, where he went from an ordinary loader to a qualified locksmith. It was here that he acquired a pernicious addiction to tobacco. His father put cigarettes in his mouth so that the exhausted Leo would not fall exhausted during the work shift. For his contribution to the country’s defense capability, the teenager received a state award.
The beginning of a football career
When the front moved away from the walls of the capital, the plant was returned to its original place. The Yashin family returned home, all three continued to work. Leo, having defended his shift, went to Tushino and played for the youth team of Krasny Oktyabr. Coach Vladimir Checherov put Yashin on the gate because of his high growth – by that time Lev had grown to 186 centimeters (although by today’s standards he would be called short for a goalkeeper).
Lev Yashin in the football team of the plant
One day, a spirit of contradiction leapt up in a young man, or maybe depression accumulated from many years of hard work and losses. Slamming the door, he left home, stopped going to the factory, and in those years, unauthorized departure from a defense enterprise could threaten a prison term. Only he continued to attend training regularly.
A friend from the “adult” team advised him to volunteer for the army. “Course of a young fighter” Yashin was held in the capital. In the military unit, he enrolled in the football section. At one of the matches of the internal troops, he was noticed by the coach of the Moscow Dynamo Arkady Chernyshev and offered to join the youth team.
Lev Yashin’s first match for Dynamo
They managed to prove themselves in the Dynamo game and the youth version of the team. Lev furiously defended the gate, and the youth won with a score of 1:0. Once in the main team of Dynamo, he became an understudy for the brilliant goalkeeper Alexei Khomich, nicknamed “Tiger” and his main competitor Walter Sanay.
Legendary photo: Lev Yashin and Pele, 1965
1950 was a difficult year for the beginning goalkeeper, it seemed that he could not rise above the “double”, especially after conceding three goals in a match with a team from Tbilisi. The coach decided to switch Yashin to bandy, then a completely new sport for the USSR. Here he showed himself perfectly, the young athlete was even offered a place in the national team. And yet in 1953 he made the final choice in favor of football. On May 2, his first match after a long break took place, in which Dynamo defeated Lokomotiv with a score of 3: 1.
Yashin quickly got into shape, began to develop his own methods of protecting the gate. He caught the ball with his hands and feet, moving at lightning speed in the space of the goal, hitting the most difficult balls with his head. The audience loved his cap trick, which he took off before hitting the ball, then put it back in place, as if paying respect to those gathered in the stands.
Soviet football legend
In 1954, his career took off. Under the leadership of coach Mikhail Yakushin, the club became the champion of the USSR (subsequently, Dynamo and Lev Yashin repeated this feat four more times: in 1955, 1957, 1959 and 1963).
After taking the “gold”, the opinion of football experts about Yashin changed dramatically – now they thought of him not as an understudy with a fickle reputation, but as an authoritative goalkeeper of the best club in the country and the champion of the Soviet Union. And the journalists gave him the nickname “black spider” for his very long arms and dark uniform. He was also called the “black panther” – for amazing inventive jumps.
Yashin constantly surprised opponents
The victories came one after another. In 1956, his team won the Olympic Games in Australia, and in 1960 won the European Championship. Even the failures in the matches in Chile and Colombia (1962) did not spoil his career, although he had to endure a flurry of criticism after the loss.
USSR national team in Melbourne, 1956
But he gained worldwide popularity after the “match of the century” in England (1963). The English Football Federation celebrated its 100th anniversary, and the match between the national team and the “rest of the world” dedicated to this event was dubbed the “match of the century”.
They invited the strongest players in the world (except, perhaps, Pele, Didi and Garrinchi), including 34-year-old Yashin, who by that time was going through hard times: he was no longer called up to the national team and put on the gate at Dynamo, and also recently praised goalkeeper fans advised him to retire and nurse grandchildren.
Team of the world at the “match of the century”. Wembley Stadium, 1963
Yashin defended the gate throughout the first half. During this time, not a single ball hit the gates of the “world team”. But in the second half, Yashin was replaced by the Yugoslav goalkeeper Milutin Shoshkic, who conceded two goals.
One way or another, the “match of the century” gave Yashin’s career a second wind: he was again called up to the national team, returned to the gates of Dynamo, and in the same year the club again took the championship of the USSR. And the collection of Leo’s awards was replenished with the “Golden Ball”. Thus, he became the first Soviet football player recognized as the best player in Europe, and only in 1975 did Dynamo Kiev forward Oleg Blokhin repeat his triumph.
Lev Yashin and Dynamo. 1966
In 1966, he once again proved himself at the World Cup. Then the USSR national team took fourth place, winning in the ¼ final against Hungary (2:1), but losing to Germany in the semifinals (2:1) and Portugal in the match for third place (2:1).
In the match with Germany, Yashin was hit in the 42nd minute
Yashin ended his career as a goalkeeper on May 27, 1971, having played his last match at a stadium in Moscow. 103 thousand fans watched his game. The All-Union Dynamo team played against the team of world stars. The match ended with the score 2:2. Leaving the field, Yashin solemnly handed over his gloves to the young goalkeeper Vladimir Pilguy, as if appointing him as his official successor.
Farewell match of Lev Yashin: with Vladimir Pilguy
But Yashin did not leave sports: in August of the same year in Rome, he once again entered the field for the “world team of stars” against the Italian team, and then began coaching for the preparation of young Dynamo football players. He continued to work until 1975, but left the job due to the death of a young Dynamo player Anatoly Kozhemyakin, who tried to get out of a stuck elevator, but did not make it in time and was crushed. Yashin was indirectly blamed for the tragedy, being suspected of contributing to the moral decay of the wards. After that, he coached the second USSR national team and children’s teams.
After finishing his career, Lev Yashin became the coach of Dynamo
Personal life of Lev Yashin
The fate and only wife of the famous football player was Valentina Timofeevna Shashkova, a radio correspondent. In marriage, the couple had two girls. Daughters gave the athlete grandchildren, one of them – Vasily Frolov, followed in the footsteps of his grandfather and made a sports career. At one time he was in the double of Dynamo, played for Dynamo Petersburg, later became a coach.
Lev Yashin with his wife Valentina Shashkova
The No. 1 goalkeeper in the Soviet Union was friends with his counterparts from other countries. The famous football player Pele was among his friends. In addition to sports, Yashin had another great hobby – fishing.
The football player loved fishing
In the early 80s, Yashin began to have heart problems. First, he was stabbed to the left during the World Cup in Madrid, where, after long disputes with the authorities and the resulting stress, he nevertheless went, but not as a columnist, as originally planned, but as a translator.
With wife and children
Upon returning to Moscow, he suffered a heart attack. Then – a stroke, which Lev Ivanovich stoically endured on his feet. In 1984, the diagnosis sounded like thunder: gangrene due to endarteritis, which affected the vessels of the legs. The cause was also found: smoking. Gangrene progressed, and there was no other way out, except for amputation.
The football player was killed by tobacco
We can say that Yashin was lucky, how appropriate this word is in this situation. For him, they managed to get an innovative iron prosthesis from Finland instead of the so-called “tubs” – prostheses in the form of barrels, the only ones produced in the USSR. A long recovery process began, the former football player learned to walk again. He did not quit smoking.
Final years and death
The last spectacular appearance of a football player in public took place on the day of his 60th birthday. In his car, he made an honorable circle around the Dynamo stadium.
In 1990, Yashin again heard a terrible diagnosis from doctors – peritoneal cancer, an almost professional disease of goalkeepers. From his youth, he suffered from an ulcer, which eventually degenerated into a malignant tumor. The sixty-year-old athlete passed away on the birthday of his beloved daughter – March 20, 1990.
Lev Yashin 4 months before his death
Memory of an idol
In 2019, director Vasily Chiginsky made a feature-biographical film about Lev Yashin “Lev Yashin. The goalkeeper of my dreams. The great football player was played by Alexander Fokin, his wife – Yulia Khlynina. The release of the film was originally timed to coincide with the 2018 World Cup, hosted by Russia, but due to funding problems, the premiere was postponed to November 29, 2019, coinciding with the goalkeeper’s 90th birthday (albeit a month late).
Alexander Fokin (right) as Lev Yashin
The creators of the FIFA 18 game included Lev Yashin in the rank of “legends” along with Diego Maradona, Pele and Thierry Henry.
Lev Yashin in FIFA