Birthday of Lev Ivanovich Yashin, goalkeeper of the Soviet football squad, the best football goalkeeper of the XX century, the only goalkeeper to become the European Footballer of the Year, Olympic champion, 1960 European champion, 5 times USSR championship winner, 3 times USSR Cup winner, player of the FIFA Best of the World XI team, who was awarded Order of Lenin, Hero of Socialist Labor medal, Olympic order, FIFA Golden Medal for Merits, and so on, so on, so on.
He was born in a working family. In 1941, when the war started, his family was evacuated to Ulyanovsk, where his began working at a facctory. In 1944, they returned to Moscow. The work at the factory was exhausting and in 1947 he suffers a nervous. He left work and home and lived at his friend. In the USSR all citizens were obliged to work somewhere, and Yashin's friends advised him to join the army. So he did, and soon he met a football trainer, Alexey Chernyshov, who invited him to the junior team Dynamo Moscow. By 1949, Yashin became the third goalkeeper of Dynamo, together with two other famous goalies — Alexey Khomich and Walter Sanaya. The beginning of his career was very disappointing — he made some silly mistakes and conceded unexpected goals. Yashin became interested in ice hockey and even won the USSR Cup. However, Khomich taught him to work at the training sessions as hard as possible, and by mid-50s Yashin becomes a football star. Since 1953 he is the first goalkeeper of Dynamo and in 1954 he became the champion of the USSR for the first time.
His success coincided with the rise of the Soviet football in general, and this gave him chances to become the best goalkeeper in the world. Olympic Games of 1956 and the Europeans championship of 1960 were the two best results of the Soviet sportsmen.
Yashin was a good friend of many legends of football, like Pele, Beckenbauer, Eusebio. His wife Valentina recalled that in 1958, in Sweden, in a hotel, Yashin grabbed by the neck a young black boy running down the stairways and said her: "Meet Pele, Valentina. He will soon be the player that was never seen before." All these stars participated in Yashin's last, 813th game, World Stars vs USSR, that took place in Moscow in 1971. 41-years old Yashin kept yet another clean sheet in this game. At the end of this last game he said a short speech addressing the fans. Here's the full transcript of the speech: "Thanks, people..."
Yashin spent all his career in one club, Moscow Dynamo. However, he played in more than one squad. Besides the Soviet team, he played in the World team and once he was even the captain of the Turkey team in a game against Galatasaray, which was the last game of the Turkish goalkeeper Turgay Şeren.
Lev Yashin was a heavy smoker and the health problems forced the doctors to amputate his leg. He died in 1990 because of the complications.