Nikolai Starostin: My Football Years – Captain’s Memory

Nikolai Petrovich Starostin (1902-1996) was a Soviet football player and official. He was the co-founder of Spartak Moscow, which turned into the most popular club in the USSR and Russia, and worked as its head administrator for most of his life. Starostin is considered one of the most legendary and universally revered figures of Soviet football. In 1986, he published the book ‘My Football Years’ with Lev Filatov, and even well into his eighties, he retained a keen understanding of the game, … [Read more...]

Nikolai Starostin: My Football Years (Chapter 1)

Nikolai Petrovich Starostin (1902-1996) was a Soviet football player and official. He was the co-founder of Spartak Moscow, which turned into the most popular club in the USSR and Russia, and worked as its head administrator for most of his life. Starostin is considered one of the most legendary and universally revered figures of Soviet football. In 1986, he published the book 'My Football Years' with Lev Filatov, and even well into his eighties, he retained a keen understanding of the game, … [Read more...]

From Abramyan to Akinfeev – Top Eleven Goalkeepers With the Most Clean Sheets in the Soviet and Russian Top Flight

With CSKA Moscow's 4-0 victory at home against Tom Tomsk last Sunday, Igor Akinfeev recorded his 161st clean sheet in the Russian Football Premier League, a new record in the league and one more than the legendary Lev Yashin. With Akinfeev's incredible achievement, it is time to look back, and we give you the ten goalkeepers with the most clean sheets in the Russian and Soviet top flight. 10: Alyosha Abramyan (1965 – 1978: Ararat Yerevan) & Sergey Kramarenko (1964 – 1984: Neftchi Baku … [Read more...]

Poise, Persistence, Perfection – An Ode to Anatoliy Tymoshchuk

Football is filled with contentious personalities. Hard-man defenders, stroppy strikers and mercurial midfielders are as common within the game as corner flags and crossbars. It’s rare that a day passes within the sport without one or more of the participants creating controversy for the press and problems for their management. Which is why we are allowed to shed more than a few tears when a true gentleman of the sport hangs up his boots. These few good men keep our faith in the game alive. … [Read more...]

Andrey Arshavin and the Kazakh Revival

After a disastrous, short spell at Kuban Krasnodar, Andrey Arshavin left his motherland in March this year, when he signed a one-season contract with Kazakh side FC Kairat Almaty, and thus joined his former teammate from Zenit Anatoliy Tymoshchuk at the club. The move to Kazakhstan and Almaty gave the then 34-year-old midfielder one last shot at redemption after failing to meet the expectations of Russian football fans after the many disappointments since he permanently moved back to Zenit … [Read more...]

The Loskov Legacy and His Return to Lokomotiv

"He's an outstanding person. He's a club legend. He never put himself above others. Even with the younger players he talked on a par, giving them advice. He's probably the best player ever of not only Lokomotiv, but of all Russian football". This is how current former Lokomotiv Moscow defender Taras Burlak, currently with Rubin Kazan, described Dmitriy Loskov in 2015. More than four years have passed since Loskov wore Lokomotiv's kit for the last time, but now the Kurgan-born midfielder is … [Read more...]

Hulk – The Football Globetrotter

Some footballers were born to be talked about. They create an aura of intrigue and awe that follows them wherever they go. More so are the men who are known worldwide by a monosyllabic moniker. When Gilvan de Sousa, a market trader from the northeastern Brazilian city of Campina Grande, referred to his son, Givanildo Vieira de Sousa, as his favourite comic book character 'Hulk', he made sure his boy would be one such man. Chance dictated that young Givanildo grew limbs like tree trunks, … [Read more...]

Stanislav Cherchesov – The Dresden days and the uncertain future

Although I have always been a hardcore supporter of FC Spartak Moscow, Stanislav Cherchesov was never my favourite goalkeeper. It is hard to admit that I have never felt the same kind of admiration for him that I had for Rinat Dasaev, who left the Moscow’s former powerhouse in the beginning of 1989, when Cherchesov returned to the Red-Whites after spending one year with FC Lokomotiv Moscow. Cherchesov’s trademark black pants tucked in his white socks, nevertheless, inspired my “career” as a … [Read more...]

Vyacheslav Malafeev – The Last of the Local Lads

“My whole life at Zenit. My whole life in gloves” - the words of Vyacheslav Malefeev upon retiring from football last week neatly summarised the veteran goalkeeper’s life in football: all nineteen years of his professional career had been spent between the sticks at Zenit St. Petersburg. Cliches only serve to besmirch football writing, but it seems right to attach a few overused labels to Malafeev. He was a one-man club, something of an anomaly in modern football. With Zenit perhaps … [Read more...]

Aleksey Smertin – From Siberia to Chelsea and Back Again

Born in 1975, Aleksey Smertin is regarded as one of the most recognisable Russian footballers having played for both Lokomotiv and Dinamo Moscow in Russia, as well as spells abroad with Bordeaux and Chelsea. He is now a Deputy Executive Director for Dinamo Moscow. Father figure Smertin was born in Barnaul, Southern Siberia. Like many, his dream was being a footballer. But unlike a lot of aspiring footballers, it was his Dad that was the focal force in making Aleksey, and his brother … [Read more...]