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Goal.com looks at various players who became achieved cult status for their performances in the Euros. We go way back to the first Euro in 1960, with Lev Yashin

Lev Yashin

Date of Birth: 22 October, 1929

Place of Birth: Moscow, Soviet Union (Russia)

Height: 1.89 m

Playing Position: Goalkeeper

Set against a backdrop of political turmoil and mass withdrawals, the first European Championship finals would be dominated by a goalkeeper, as Lev Yashin led and inspired the Soviet Union to come back from behind to be crowned inaugural champions thanks to Viktor Ponedelnik's extra-time winner.

The final pitted the Soviet Union against Yugoslavia at the Parc des Princes in Paris in front of just under 18,000 spectators.

Yashin known as the ‘Blacks Spider’, was the team’s heart and soul at the 1960 tournament. When Lev Yashin covered the goal, not a pinhole was left open. This giant with long spidery arms always dressed in black and played with elegance and expressed gestures, marshaling his back four. He liked to stop thundering blasts with a single hand that stopped any shot, while his body remained motionless like a rock.

Initially, Yugoslavia's touch and tactical intelligence gave them the edge on a slippery pitch, Dragoslav Sekularac and Bora Kostić keeping up their good work of the semi-final in which they beat hosts France, 5-4. Their opener, however, did not reflect their early style; Galić was given the credit for a deflected shot that got past the goalkeeping legend.

Soviet Union (now Russia) won the inaugural European Championship

Yashin, who was 30 years old at the time, then started to show his excellence by making a series of fine saves, highlighted by keeping out Kostić’s thunderous goal-bound free kick, to keep his team in the game. Yugoslavian counterpart Blagoje Vidinic, by contrast, dropped Valentin Bubukin's long shot and allowed Metreveli to equalise. It took Yashin’s spidery best to ensure that Milan Galic's deflected effort was all the Yugoslavs had to show for in their 90 minutes of domination.

Valentin Ivanov spurned a fine chance with three minutes left, though Yugoslavia missed a golden opportunity of their own in extra time when Jerkovic allowed the ball to skid under his foot right on the goal line. It proved decisive as with seven minutes remaining, Ponedelnik headed his country to glory.

The Soviet Union won their first and ultimately their only major Championship, with their leader Lev Yashin lifting the Henri Delaunay Trophy as his side won the UEFA European Football Championship.

 

"Style of Play"

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 organisation of the defenders, practices now quite common among goalkeepers.

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 seldom captained his teams, even though the custom of appointing a goalkeeper captain was virtually unheard-of in that era, but his leadership on the field was always evident.

He was a man of great character, as in the 1962 World Cup he led his side to a quarter-finals finish even after picking up two concussions in the tournament.


The 'Black Spider' extending his 'eight legs' while trying to save a goal

Yashin 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 legs, just as a spider, to save almost everything. But to his fans, he was always the fearless "Black Panther".

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."

Yashin loved stopping penalties and had saved around 150 penalty kicks during his career, far more than any other goalkeeper in history.

He also won a USSR ice hockey championship in 1953 playing as a goalkeeper.

 

“Honours”

Lev Yashin, considered by many to be the greatest keeper in the history of the game, is the only goalkeeper ever to win the Ballon d’Or, winning the award in 1963.

Lev Yashin spent his entire club career with Dynamo Moscow, winning the USSR Football Championship five times and the USSR Cup three times.

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.

A Bronze statue of Lev Yashin was erected at the Dynamo Stadium in Moscow.

In 2000, Lev Yashin won the Award for the FIFA World Keeper of the Century.

Lev Yashin won the Golden Player of Russia award in 2003

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'.

Lev Yashin 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.

 

 

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