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FOOTBALL

Lev Yashin

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Lev Yashin

Soviet Union | Goalkeeper

Achievements: World Cup 4th 1966

Yashin was perhaps the greatest goalkeeper ever. His graceful skills earned him an Olympic gold medal, a European Championship medal, a European footballer of the year award and the Order of Lenin, but in three attempts he could not get his massive hands on a World Cup winner's medal.

The Soviet Union made its debut on the World Cup stage in Sweden in 1958, having won Olympic gold in Melbourne two years earlier.

Yashin was impressive, and the Soviets came through their opening round group ahead of England and Austria only to lose 2-0 to the hosts in the quarterfinals.

The 1962 finals in Chile were the low point of Yashin's career. He was magnificent in an opening 2-0 win over Yugoslavia, but then conceded four goals against Colombia in a 4-4 draw.

Uruguayan journalist Eduardo Galeano claimed Yashin, who was known to calm his nerves with a strong drink before matches, had enjoyed "a few too many nips" before the game.

The experience dented Yashin's confidence and in the quarterfinals he was at fault twice as host Chile won 2-1. But Yashin was back, at age 36, for the 1966 finals in England.

Rested for two of the Soviet Union's opening-round matches, he was outstanding in a 1-0 win over Italy and pulled off one of the saves of his career to stop Ferenc Sipo's freekick in a 2-1 quarterfinal win over Hungary.

It was the closest Yashin ever came to a World Cup final. West Germany proved too strong in the semis, and the Soviets finished in fourth place after losing to Portugal. He died in 1990.

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