FIFA World Cup 2018: How Russia has been 'custodians' of Lev Yashin's legacy

Jun 13, 2018, 07:22 IST | Kashinath Bhattacharjee

His legacy was too big to ignore even for FIFA since the best penalty-stopper found his deserving place in the posters released for the 2018 World Cup

FIFA World Cup 2018: How Russia has been 'custodians' of Lev Yashin's legacy
Lev Yashin's statue at FC Dynamo. Pics/Kashinath Bhattacharjee

The Vagankovskoye cemetery and football club Dynamo Moscow are situated at a distance of around six kilometers as per the radio taxi services. At the cemetery, the undisputed king of goalkeeping, late Lev Yashin, is seen standing with a ball in his hand while, at the entrance of the Dynamo Moscow club, his bronze sculpture depicts him positioned to fly into the sky to deny the ball from entering the goal. The sculptor Aleksandr Rukavishnikov's vision had made the goalpost triangular behind the cult goalie from Russia, the lone recipient of European Ballon d'Or in 1963 as the first and the only goalkeeper till date. For his all-black attire, including the cap, he was nicknamed 'Black Spider', 'Black Panther'.

Yashin's tombstone at Moscow's Vagankovskoye cemetery
Yashin's tombstone at Moscow's Vagankovskoye cemetery

That is the only area where the relic work at the cemetery might catch the eye since it's made of white marble. But the change is inevitable as the greatest goalkeeper also had changed the way the shot-stoppers should play the game forever. The Manuel Neuers of today will always be indebted to him since he was the first to show the world that the goalline was no place for a 'keeper to stand through a game. He came ahead, released the ball early, used to throw it to nearby defenders so that the passing game could begin — everything a Pep Guardiola-coached goalkeeper does now. Russia, then the national football team of Soviet Union earned fourth place with him at the 1966 World Cup.

His legacy was too big to ignore even for FIFA since the best penalty-stopper found his deserving place in the posters released for the 2018 World Cup. The Russian Government commemorated it with the release of 100 Ruble bills prior to the quadrennial event. Dynamo Moscow, Yashin's club, is being rebuilt. You cannot see it. There is a barrier one should not cross and due to the reconstruction, the place is a bit dirty. But to see the sculpture from front, one needs to pass this little hazard and risk oneself to get a photograph, crossing the barrier at one's own risk, something the forwards would never been allowed to do by the late goalkeeper!

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