Lev Yashin

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Lev Ivanovich Yashin
Yashin in 1965
Personal information
Full name Lev Ivanovich Yashin
Date of birth (1929-10-22)22 October 1929
Place of birth Moscow, Soviet Union
Date of death 20 March 1990(1990-03-20) (aged 60)
Place of death Moscow, Soviet Union
Height 1.89 m (6 ft 2 in)[1]
Playing position Goalkeeper
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1950–1970 Dynamo Moscow 326 (1)
National team
1954–1970 Soviet Union 78 (0)

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.

† Appearances (goals)

Lev Ivanovich Yashin (Russian: Лев Ива́нович Я́шин, 22 October 1929 – 20 March 1990), nicknamed the "Black Spider" or the "Black Panther", was a Soviet-Russian football goalkeeper, considered by many to be the greatest goalkeeper in the history of the game.[2] He was known for his athleticism in goal, imposing stature and reflex saves.[3] He was also deputy chairman of the Football Federation of the Soviet Union.

Yashin earned iconic status for revolutionizing the goalkeeping position by stamping his authority on the entire defence.[3][4] He shouted orders at his defenders, came off his line to intercept crosses and also ran out to meet onrushing attackers, done at a time when goalkeepers spent the 90 minutes standing in the goal waiting to be called into action.[3][4] His performances made an indelible impression on a global audience at the 1958 World Cup, the first to be broadcast internationally. He dressed head to toe in black, thus earning his nickname the 'Black Spider', which enhanced his popularity.[3][4]

Yashin appeared in four World Cups from 1958 to 1970, and in 2002 was chosen on the FIFA Dream Team of the history of World Cups. In 1994 he was chosen for the FIFA World Cup All-Time Team, and in 1998 was chosen a member of the World Team of the 20th Century. He made over 150 penalty saves and kept over 270 clean sheets in his career, winning a gold medal at the 1956 Olympic football tournament, and the 1960 European Championships.[5] In 1963, Yashin received the Ballon d'Or, the only goalkeeper ever to receive the award.[3] He was voted the best goalkeeper of the 20th century by the IFFHS.[6]

Early life

Yashin was born in Moscow to 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.


Dynamo Moscow

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 ice hockey championship as goalkeeper.

He spent his 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. He also internally rivalled goalkeeper Walter Sanaya, who left the club in 1953.

National team

In 1954, Yashin was called up to the national team, and would go on to gather 78 caps.[7] 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.[1] Yashin is credited with four clean sheets out of the 12 games he played in the World Cup finals.

Lev Yashin was first-class, a real super goalkeeper. His positional play was excellent, but everything he did was top-class. He was the model for goalkeeping for the next 10 to 15 years, without a doubt. I visualised myself doing some of the things he was doing, even though I was already playing in the top division I used to learn from him.

—England legend Gordon Banks, voted the second greatest goalkeeper, behind Yashin, of the 20th Century.[8]

Yashin was "the peerless goalkeeper of the century".

—Portugal legend Eusébio.[4]

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.[9] 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.[10] 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.[11]

Despite the disappointment of the 1962 World Cup, Yashin would bounce back to win the Ballon d'Or in 1963. One of his best performances that year was the 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. From that point onward 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.[3][4] But to his fans, he was always the fearless "Black Panther". He often played wearing a cloth cap of burnt-brick colour. Yashin led the Soviet team to its best showing at the FIFA World Cup, a fourth-place finish in the 1966 World Cup held in England.

Always ready to give advice to his comrades, Yashin even made a fourth trip to the World Cup finals in 1970, held in Mexico, as the third-choice back-up and an assistant coach. The Soviet team again reached the quarter-finals. 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.[3]


Yashin remains the only goalkeeper to have won the Ballon d'Or Award, which he received in 1963.[3] He also stopped 151 penalty kicks during his career, far more than any other goalkeeper in history, and kept over 270 clean sheets.[5][12] 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.[3]

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.[3] 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."[12]

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).[13]

Post-playing career

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.[12]

In 1986, following a thrombophlebitis contracted while he was in Budapest, Yashin underwent the amputation of one of his legs.[12] He died in 1990 of stomach cancer, despite a surgical intervention in an attempt to save his life. He was given a State funeral as a Soviet Honoured Master of Sport.[12]

Yashin was survived by wife Valentina Timofeyevna and daughters Irina and Elena.[14] His grandson Vasili Frolov played as a goalkeeper for Dynamo.[15]


Commemorative 3-ruble coin issued in 2009 by the Central Bank of Russia
Bronze statue of Yashin in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

The following works are devoted to Yashin:

  • Song "Vratar'" ("Goalkeeper", 1971) by Vladimir Vysotsky.[16]
  • Verse "Года летят" ("Years go by") by Robert Rozhdestvensky.[17]
  • Verse "Вратарь выходит из ворот" ("Goalkeeper is coming out of the goal", 1974) by Yevgeny Yevtushenko.[18]
  • A Russian-language biopic about his life, entitled, Lev Yashin: Goalie of My Dreams, is currently being planned. The film is scheduled to be released in 2017, to coincide with the opening of the new billion-dollar Dynamo Moscow stadium, VTB-Lev Yashin Stadium. Its director Oleg Kapanets previously produced Gagarin: First in Space.[19]
  • Several streets are named after Yashin in Russian cities, and there are multiple monuments of Yashin, both in Russia and abroad.


"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."

— Lev Yashin

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

— Lev Yashin

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

— Lev Yashin on Bert Trautmann

"I am not the best goalkeeper in the world, it is Vladimir Beara."

— Lev Yashin, upon receiving the award for best player in 1963.[20][21]

"Yashin plays football better than me"

— Sandro Mazzola after a 1963 Italy-USSR match, where Yashin saved a penalty.


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 1
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 1
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 7 0
1967 6 0
Total 75 0


Soviet Union Dynamo Moscow

  • Soviet Cup
    • Champions: 1953, 1967, 1970
    • Runners-up: 1955

Dynamo Moscow golf team

  • Soviet Cup champions: 1953

 Soviet Union


See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Lev Yashin. sports-reference.com
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Yashin, Lev Ivanovich". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Retrieved 25 June 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 3.9 "Yashin, the impregnable Spider". FIFA. Retrieved 23 November 2013
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Lomas, Mark (29 April 2010) "Lev Yashin: Russian Revolutionary". ESPN. Retrieved 21 May 2014
  5. 5.0 5.1 "The greatest XI in the history of football... and there's no room for Ronaldo, Eusebio and Best". Daily Mail. Retrieved 23 November 2013
  6. Stokkermans, Karel. "IFFHS' Century Elections". RSSSF. Retrieved 25 June 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Arnhold, Matthias (13 December 2012). "Lev Ivanovich Yashin – International Appearances". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. Retrieved 2 January 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Euro 1960: Lev Yashin leads Soviets to glory in France". BBC. Retrieved 21 May 2014
  9. Castro, Ruy (2005). Garrincha – The Triumph and Tragedy of Brazil’s Forgotten Footballing Hero. London: Yellow Jersey Press. ISBN 0-224-06433-9.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Victor Ponedelnik". UEFA EURO 2008. Archived from the original on 20 April 2008. Retrieved 21 April 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "The path of the 'Panther'". BBC News. 9 April 2002. Retrieved 21 April 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 Greaves, Jimmy (2008). Football's Great Heroes and Entertainers. Hachette UK. p. 1949. ISBN 1444718150
  13. de Arruda, Marcelo Leme (15 May 2004) World All-Time Teams. Rec. Sport. Soccer Statistics Foundation. rsssf.com
  14. Лев Иванович Яшин. academydinamo.ru
  15. Pryakhin, Valery (19 January 2007) Вратарь «Динамо» Василий Фролов, внук Льва Яшина: Бутсы деда мне великоваты. sovsport.ru
  16. Roganov, Nikolai (25 January 2013) История песни «Вратарь». Владимиру Высоцкому сегодня исполнилось бы 75. sovsport.ru
  17. Galchuk, Andrei (2014). Мир мужских увлечений. Лучший подарок настоящему мужчине. ЛитРес. pp. 172–. ISBN 978-5-457-59663-4.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. Shestak, Anna (2009) Евгений ЕВТУШЕНКО: «Поэзии я учился у советского футбола». Bulvar Gordona, Vol. 38 (230)
  19. Стали известны претенденты на роль Льва Яшина (голосование) [Contenders for the role of Lev Yashin revealed]. Sovetsky Sport. 4 March 2015. Retrieved 21 April 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. Jonathan Wilson (5 August 2008). "Meet Yugoslavia's ballerina Beara, once the best keeper in the world". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 December 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. Buturugeanu, Alex (1 October 2010). "Trădătorii (III): Vladimir Beara". Istoria Fotbalului. Retrieved 21 December 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. Лев Яшин. russiateam.ru (in Russian). Retrieved 18 March 2011.CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. 23.0 23.1 "Lev YASHIN". russiateam.ru. Retrieved 18 March 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. 24.0 24.1 Yashin, Lev at National-Football-Teams.com
  25. 25.0 25.1 FIFA XI´s Matches - Full Info
  26. 26.0 26.1 26.2 26.3 "ERIC BATTY’S WORLD XI – THE SIXTIES" Retrieved on 29 November 2015

External links