Lev Yashin (22 October 1929 – 20 March 1990), nicknamed the "Black Spider" or the "Black Panther", was a Soviet professional footballer, considered by many as the greatest goalkeeper in the history of the sport. He was known for his athleticism, positioning, stature, bravery, imposing presence in goal, and acrobatic reflex saves. He was also deputy chairman of the Football Federation of the Soviet Union.
Yashin earned status for revolutionising the goalkeeping position by imposing his authority on the entire defence. A vocal presence in goal, 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. 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 apparent black (in truth very dark blue), thus earning his nickname the 'Black Spider', which enhanced his popularity.
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 as a member of the World Team of the 20th Century. According to FIFA, Yashin saved over 150 penalty kicks in professional football – more than any other goalkeeper. He also kept over 270 clean sheets in his career, winning a gold medal at the 1956 Olympic football tournament, and the 1960 European Championships. Yashin was nominated for Ballon d'Or in 1960 and 1961 and placed fifth and fourth, respectively. In 1963, Yashin received the Ballon d'Or, the only goalkeeper ever to receive the award. He was voted the best goalkeeper of the 20th century by the IFFHS.
Yashin was born in Moscow to a family of industrial workers. When he was 12, World War II forced him to work in a factory to support the war effort. However his health at the age of 18 meant he was unable to work. Thus, he was sent to work in a military factory in Moscow. After being spotted playing for the factory team he was invited to join the Dynamo Moscow youth team. He spent his entire professional football career with Dynamo Moscow, from 1950 to 1970, winning the USSR football championship five times and the Soviet Cup three times.
In 1954, Yashin was called up to the Soviet national team, and would go on to gather 78 caps. Yashin is credited with four clean sheets out of the 12 games he played in the World Cup finals. 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.
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.
Also Watch: CHECK OUT: Likham: The Book Made of Gold