Eduard Streltsov:The Russian Pele


Lev Yashin may be the most famous player who came out of Russia besides that he was a goalkeeper,however among strikers that title goes to Eduard Streltsov.Relatively unknown outside the former USSR,Streltsov is one of the greatest strikers which came from Russia besides that he never appeared in the World Cup.Born in 1937 in east Moscow Eduard Anatolyevich Streltsov had a very hard childhood when his father,a intelligence officer and a soldier of the Red Army left him and his mother after WWII,but he that overcame by playing football for the Fraser Factory football team and following his favorite team Spartak Moscow,at the age of 16 after a match between the Fraser Factory team and Torpedo Moscow,Streltsov impressed Torpedo coach Vassily Provnorov and soon signed his first professional contract with Torpedo Moscow.Streltsov became the youngest player to score in the Soviet Top League at 16 years,8 months and 27 days and that was in his first season as professional footballer in 1954.He will end the 1954 season with only 4 goals scored,however the next season he became the top scorer of the league with 15 goals in 22 matches,while Torpedo rose to 4th place which was an improvement from the 1954 season when they finished 9th.That included a 2-0 victory against Spartak Moscow at the Dynamo Stadium.A month before Streltsov made his debut on the international stage where in the friendly match against Sweden which the USSR won,Streltsov scored 3 goals.He repeated that number against India and against Denmark he scored a single goal.After a dissapointing 1st round exit at the 1952 Olympic Games Football tournament where the USSR was defeated 3-1 by Yugoslavia,the Soviets made an objective to correct that failure 4 years later in Melbourne.In the semifinal the Soviets faced Bulgaria and with 2 men out of the game due to injuries,the Soviets headed to extra-time.The Bulgarians opened the scoring in the 95th minute with Kolev,but 7 minutes in the 2nd extra-time Streltsov scored the equalizer and assisted for the winning goal 4 minutes before the extra-time ended.The Soviets in the final faced Yugoslavia which in Helsinki defeated them in the first round.Strangely Streltsov wasn’t in the squad for the final and besides the Soviets won the gold medal after defeating Yugoslavia 1-0,Streltsov refused the gold medal.With both Ivanov and Streltsov on the squad Torpedo Moscow reached the 2nd place in the 1957 season behind Dynamo Moscow.However that’s where Streltsov’s career began to fade.His drinking problems began to affect him since they were caused by his growing popularity,nevertheless with his help the Soviets qualified for the 1958 World Cup.Just 2 weeks before the World Cup in Sweden,Streltsov was accused of raping Marina Lebedeva which was a daughter of a Soviet Army colonel.Also among the arrested were Ongokov and Tatushin who were seen at the party.While both men were later released without accusations and banned from football for 3 years,Streltsov was senteced to 12 years in prison.The Soviets without Streltsov were defeated by Sweden 2-0 in the quarterfinals of the World Cup.Torpedo in 1960 won its first league and cup double and a young Gennady Gusev filled his role in the club,while the Soviet national team won the inaugural European Championships.However he was released after serving 5 years in 1963,while he was banned to play for Torpedo he played for the ZIL factory team,a year later he returned to professional football Leonid Brezhnev lifted his ban on playing professional football.In the 1965 season Streltsov returned to Torpedo Moscow,besides he lost some of his strength and speed,he played a prominent role in the team by scoring 12 goals in 26 matches where he won his first and only title of the Soviet Top League with Torpedo Moscow.In 1968 he helped Torpedo to win the Soviet Cup and in that year he played his last international match against Hungary where the Soviets were defeated 2-0,but in the second leg of qualifiers they managed to beat Hungary 3-0 and qualify for the tournament in Italy,however Streltsov wasn’t on the squad.In 1970 at the age of 33 Streltsov retired from professional football and his final league record for Torpedo was 222 games played for the club in which he scored 99 goals.After a brief stint as head coach of Torpedo he spent much of his coaching career as coach of the youth team.In 1990 Eduard Streltsov passed away at the age of 53.Besides that it never be known the real truth about the fatal night with Marina Lebedeva,Eduard Streltsov was the one of the best strikers coming from Russia.

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