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New Lev Yashin award proves world’s recognition of Russian football achievements — expert

The shortlist of the candidates to receive Lev Yashin award at the 2019 Ballon d’Or ceremony in Paris includes ten goalkeepers
Anzor Kavazashvili Gavriil Grigorov/TASS
Anzor Kavazashvili
© Gavriil Grigorov/TASS

MOSCOW, December 2. /TASS/. A decision by the Golden Ball (Ballon d’Or) awarding ceremony to name a new goalkeeper of the year trophy after legendary Lev Yashin proves that the global football society recognizes achievements of former Soviet and Russian footballers, Yashin’s teammate Anzor Kavazashvili told TASS on Monday.

The Ballon d’Or is a prestigious football award presented annually by French football magazine France Football since 1956. The award goes to the best football player of the year and the 2019 Ballon d’Or ceremony, which will be held on Tuesday night in Paris, will feature for the first time ever a trophy for the best goalkeeper of the year. This trophy was named after Lev Yashin.

"This is undoubtedly very exciting that a decision was made at the highest football level with regard to the name of Lev Yashin," Kavazashili, 79, said in an interview with TASS. "There were periods in history when the best football goalkeepers of the world were [Czech player] Frantisek Planicka and then Alexei Khomich, who is famous for his matches with football club Dynamo Moscow during the 1945 tour in Great Britain."

"No matter how fast new generations replaced each other and despite new trends in football, Lev Ivanovich Yashin received his deserved recognition by the global community after so many years," said Kavazashvili, who started his goalkeeping career in 1957 with Dynamo Tbilisi football club and also played for the Soviet Union’s national team between 1965-1970.

"Journalists, footballers and coaches still remember him, read history and watch documentaries, in which Lev Yashin is brilliantly guarding the goal of both the Soviet and global community team," he noted.

"It all speaks for the recognition of our country and our football goalkeeping school," he claimed. "We are happy that this golden award was named after him and I am proud that I have been playing with him for seven years."

"Together with him [Yashin], we are the bronze medalists of the 1966 World Cup. I would like to hope for the better, but I doubt that we will ever have such a success in the future," Kavazashvili added.

The shortlist of the candidates to receive Lev Yashin award at the 2019 Ballon d’Or ceremony in Paris this night includes: Alisson Becker (Brazil), Kepa Arrizabalaga (Spain), Ederson Moraes (Brazil), Samir Handanovic (Slovenia), Hugo Lloris (France), Manuel Neuer (Germany), Jan Oblak (Slovenia), Andre Onana (Cameroon), Wojciech Szczesny (Poland) and Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Germany).

Lev Yashin

Lev Yashin (October 22, 1929 - March 20, 1990) was a goalkeeper for Dynamo Moscow FC and the Soviet national team. He is considered as the greatest goalkeeper in the history of football and had an iconic status for revolutionizing the game of a goalkeeper. He remains the only goalkeeper in the history of football to win the Ballon d’Or.

Throughout his career he stopped a total of over 150 penalty kicks, by far more than any other goalkeeper in history and has a record of over 270 clean sheets, which means that he never conceded a goal in over 270 matches. He played in three World Cups in 1958, 1962 and 1966 and has a record of four clean sheets in an overall of 12 matches in World Cup finals.

He also appeared at the 1970 World Cup in Mexico, but in the capacity of the third-choice backup and assistant coach.

He made an unforgettable impression on the world society, when he first appeared at the 1958 World Cup in Sweden, which was the first to be broadcast internationally. Always dressed in black from head to toe he earned his international nicknames of the ‘Black Spider’ and ‘Black Panther.’