Soviet’s Last Success: The 1988 European Championship

  In the summer of 1988, Soviet football experienced its last great moment, when the Sbornaya reached the final of the European Championship. A few years later, the union would fall apart, but in 1988 the team was among the football elite. The Soviet Union had failed to qualify for every European Championships as far back as 1972, but under the guidance of head coach Valery Lobanovsky, they came back on track. In the 1986 World Cup, after a great performance in the group stage, … [Read more...]

Nikita Simonyan: How the son of an Armenian illegal immigrant became the ‘Grandfather of Russian Football’

245 matches, 160 goals, 0 yellow card and 0 red cards. These statistics are but a microcosm of Nikita Pavlovich Simonyan’s career for Spartak Moscow. Simonyan was as a player, manager, club ambassador and, above all else, still is a keen supporter of Spartak Moscow, and throughout this time has acted as a humble sportsman, functionary and gentleman. Upon celebrating his 90th birthday last season, the club hosted him as a honoured guest and invited him onto the pitch before the match with FC … [Read more...]

Interview with Maksym Kalynychenko, Part Two: The FNL, Spartak under Oleg Romantsev, and more.

Maksym Kalynychenko, who played for Spartak Moscow from 2000-2008 sat down with Alexey Spektrowski in collaboration with our friends over at ProSpartak. Here we present Part Two of the interview in English, where the pair discusses the state of the FNL and Maksym's experiences of traveling throughout Russia, Soviet Football including the work and life of Nikolai Starostin and Oleg Romantsev's dominant Spartak Moscow side in the 1990s. Make sure to read Part One first, … [Read more...]

Interview with Maksym Kalynychenko, Part One: Spartak’s Situation Today

Maksym Kalynychenko, who played for Spartak Moscow from 2000-2008 sat down with Alexey Spektrowski in collaboration with our friends over at ProSpartak. Here we present Part One of the interview in English, where the pair discusses the current situation in Spartak, the players, and Massimo Carrera. ***   The first questions, of course, will concern Spartak. What happened in the game against CSKA? Well... Everyone saw what happened. We lost. Losing a game in two minutes is bad, … [Read more...]

Reforming the Trans-Siberian Football League

The Football National League is the biggest football league in the world according to geographic area, covering over 4,500 miles as-the-crow-flies and even crosses eight time zones. Due to the size of the league and other problems synonymous with Russian football such as fiscal instability, political corruption and systemic mismanagement, many clubs - as previously explored - do not face a race to thrive, but a battle to survive. READ PART ONE: Problems with the Trans-Siberian Football … [Read more...]

Valery Karpin and that infamous day in the summer of 1990

“When I arrived there, the team was… they had escaped relegation in the last match of the previous season. It was unthinkable what we had done in five years. It was Celta’s golden era…” - Valery Karpin (2015) Valery Karpin joined Celta de Vigo back in 1997, three years after landing in Spain to play for Real Sociedad. An excellent second season at San Sebastian with Javier Irureta’s Sociedad side worked as a stepping stone for a somewhat unconvincing one-year adventure at Valencia before … [Read more...]

Nikolai Sokolov – The Founder of Russian Goalkeeping

Lev Yashin is considered perhaps the best to ever play football, but even before him, the Soviet Union has had a long line of great goalkeepers. One of these is Nikolai Sokolov, who both Nikolai Starostin in Football Stars and Anatoly Akimov in The Goalkeeper and his Role in the Team name as the founder of the Soviet goalkeeping school, which later gave birth to Yashin, Rinat Dasaev and many others. Sokolov was born in Moscow on May 12, 1897. At this time, football wasn’t a sport for Russians … [Read more...]

Dinamo Moscow’s 1945 Goodwill Tour of Britain

“The Russians are Coming”: Arrival 4th November 1945, Croydon. Two planes, appearing to be Douglas DC-3 Dakotas, approached the runway and touched down amidst a barrage of London sunshine, a characteristically mundane and everyday sight for an airport which based RAF Transport Command from 1944. These giant planes would ferry ammunition and vehicles from factory to operating unit throughout World War Two. However, on this day, the influx of these two planes was a prodigious and preternatural … [Read more...]

Timeline of the Renaming of Russian Top Flight Clubs

The Soviet football system was very dissimilar to the Western system. In the early 1920s, all pre-revolutionary football clubs were dissolved; some of them were basically reformed under new names, after moving their "franchise" (football team) to some other location, some were created anew. There were no "football clubs" per se in the Soviet Union - officially, all football teams belonged to some "voluntary sports society" or the other, which was reflected in their names. Here's an incomplete … [Read more...]

Nikolai Starostin: My Football Years (Chapter 5) – The Reputation of Football

 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...]