Lev “Black Spider” Yashin (1929 â€“ 1990), was a Russian-Soviet soccer/football goalkeeper.
He is widely acclaimed to be the greatest goalkeeper in history, voted the best goalkeeper of the 20th century by The International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IFFHS).
He is the only goalkeeper ever to win the European Footballer of the Year Award, in 1963.
In 1994, FIFA established the Lev Yashin Award for the best goalkeeper at the World Cup finals.
In 1998, the World Team of the 20th Century were chosen by 250 international football journalists – Yashin was named the sole goalkeeper.
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.
He is also believed to have saved about 150 penalty kicks, much more than any other goalkeeper in history.
He played 12 matches at a World Cup, with 4 clean sheets. In his entire career, he had 270 clean sheets, out of 812.
Perhaps rather strangely, he said that the way to do it is to “have a smoke to calm your nerves, then toss back a strong drink to tone your muscles.”
He’s credited with inventing / starting now commonplace practices:
- quick throw of ball to begin swift counterattack
- coming out of penalty area to snuff out danger
- command and organization of his fullbacks
- punching the ball away in certain situations rather than trying to hold on to it
He spent his entire pro career with Dynamo Moscow from 1949 to 1971 (326 games), winning the USSR football championship 5 times and the USSR Cup 3 times. However, his debut game was less auspicious, as he failed to save a soft shot straight from a clearance by the opponent’s keeper! That probably sidelined him for 3 years, until he made the senior team again in 1953.
He was the goalkeeper for the Soviet Union between 1954 and 1970, earning 78 caps, conceding 70 goals, and winning the gold medal at the 1956 Olympics and the 1960 European Championship.
Playing in 3 World Cups (1958, 1962 and 1966). he helped his country to reach the quarterfinals. In a group match against a rampant Brazil where his team lost 0-2, his performance ensured they didn’t lose by a much bigger margin.
One of his greatest performances was the 1963 FA Centenary match, when he played for the “Rest of the World XI” team against England at Wembley. There, he made some unbelieveable saves.