Lev YashinThe Black Spider
There are relatively few players whose sheer brilliance have helped revolutionise the game of football, but former USSR No1 Lev Yashin is unquestionably one of them. He is widely considered to be the greatest and most innovative goalkeeper ever, and is the only one ever to win the European Footballer of the Year (1963).
Yashin’s popularity grew rapidly thanks to his imposing displays and abundant charisma. Dressed head to toe in black and able to smother even the fiercest of efforts, his nickname, the 'Black Spider', only enhanced his iconic status. He was also an intimidating presence and leader on the field, organising all the defensive aspects of his teams. He is believed to have stopped around 150 penalty kicks during his career, far more than any other keeper in history.
Born and raised in Moscow, Yashin incredibly spent the whole of his twenty-year professional career at his beloved Dynamo, taking his final bow for them in the Russian capital in 1971. His testimonial match at the Lenin Stadium was attended by 100,000 fans, and a host of the world's football stars including Pelé, Eusébio and Franz Beckenbauer turned out to honour the great man.
In 1967, in acknowledgement of outstanding service to the people and to his country, Yashin was awarded the Order of Lenin, the highest award of the USSR.
'The joy of seeing Yuri Gagarin flying in space is only superseded by the joy of a good penalty save.'