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...]

Nikolai Starostin: My Football Years (Chapter 8) – Back to the Beginning

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 7) – The Consistency of Mastery

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 6) – Club and Team

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...]

Anatoli Ilyin – The Golden Striker

On Thursday, February 11, the 84-year-old Anatoli Ilyin left our world. Perhaps you have never heard about him, but he was a football icon in the Soviet Union and especially at Spartak during the 1950’s. The Red-Whites owes much of their reputation Ilyin, who scored many important goals during his career. In 1956 for example, he scored the winning goal in the final of the Olympic Games in Melbourne against the rival Yugoslavia, a goal that earned him the title Master of Sport of the USSR. In … [Read more...]

Dinamo  – The footballing embodiment of Leningrad and St. Petersburg

Nobody would deny that current Russian Premier League champions Zenit St. Petersburg hold the football monopoly in Russia's second city but this has not the always been the case. However, before Zenit's first title win in 1984 under Pavel Sadyrin, Dinamo Leningrad, as they were then, were the most supported club in the city. Their story is a fascinating one that embodies the history of the great city they represent. St. Petersburg, the capital of the former Russian Empire, is the … [Read more...]

The Soviet Cup-1944: Leningrad Triumphs On and Off the Pitch

The Soviet Cup of 1944 became only the fifth in the history of the competition. However, it turned out to be probably the most remarkable one as it was held after a 5-year break caused by the Second World War, and it was the first time a team outside Moscow won the trophy. This team’s name was Zenit and it represented the town of Leningrad, one of the worst tormented Russian cities during the war. By 1944, it had become clear that Nazi Germany would not succeed in conquering the Soviet Union … [Read more...]

Spartak – Dinamo: Moscow’s Forgotten Derby

With a total of five clubs in the Premier League, Moscow is one of the cities with the most football derbies in the world. The biggest local derby is by far the one between CSKA Moscow and Spartak. These two clubs have won 14 of the 22 championships since the creation of the Russian league in 1992. But even though CSKA and Spartak have competed since the 1920’s, first in a local Moscow league, later the Soviet Union Supreme League and now in Russia’s Premier League, it is a relatively new thing … [Read more...]

Conversation with Spartak Fanatic Amir Khuslyutdinov

Amir Khuslyutdinov, aka "The Professor", has been involved in Spartak fan support and hooligan culture since 1977, only a few years after the first organized fan movements in the USSR took root. Still active in the Spartak community, Amir's 35 years of football fanaticism span several generations, from the twilight years of the Soviet Union to economic ruin in the early 90s to the more and more Westernized society of the 21st century. Khuslyutdinov talked with me about football hooligans' … [Read more...]