Lev Yashin, famous for always wearing all-black when playing, is arguably the greatest goalkeeper the world has ever seen. He played 22 seasons for Dinamo Moscow, the only club he ever represented, winning five league championships and three cup championships. He made an unprecedented contribution to the game, setting the modern standards for goalkeeping. Being a great athlete in addition to all his courage, he was among the first goalkeepers to command the entire penalty area and did it with unmatched confidence and reliability. He was equally impressive on the goal line with stunning reflexes and plasticity which made him nearly flawless. Most notably, he confronted the common attitude of catching the ball, inventing various ways of simply kicking it away from the penalty area when required.
Yashin was the first choice goalkeeper for the Soviet Union from 1954 to 1967. In that spell he won 78 caps and played in three World Cups 1958, 1962 and finally 1966, where the Soviet Union reached the semifinal much thanks to Yashin’s contribution. In 1956 he was a member of the Soviet Union’s team who won the Olympics in Melbourne, and four years later he won the European championships.
One of the proudest moments in his career was when he won the “European Player of the Year” award in 1963. He still remains the only goalkeeper to have won that prize. He retired 41 years old playing against a team of European stars in 1971 having kept 270 clean sheets and he is also rumored to have saved over 150 penalties in his long career. In 1986 a knee injury led to an amputation of his leg and only four years later he passed away after surgery complications.