Valentin Ivanov: Footballer who won the first European Championship


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The Independent Online

Valentin Ivanov was one of the Soviet Union's leading goalscorers during the team's glory years of the 1950s and '60s, winning the 1956 Olympic title in Melbourne and the inaugural European Championship in 1960. He was awarded a "Golden Boot" by Fifa as joint top-scorer at the 1962 World Cup in Chile, won by the Brazil of Garrincha and Vavá. (Pelé was injured in the group stage.) Four years earlier, Ivanov had scored against England in a 2-2 draw in their 1958 World Cup finals group match in Gothenburg, Sweden, when a late Tom Finney penalty saved the English side from defeat.

Ivanov also helped the Soviets to reach the 1966 World Cup finals but, by then in his 30s, was not included in the squad which came to England.

His Soviet side won the first European Championship, in 1960, by beating Yugoslavia 2-1 with an extra-time goal in Paris. Four years later, he played in the team which lost 2-1 to Spain in the 1964 final at the Bernabéu Stadium in Madrid.

In all, Ivanov scored 26 goals in60 appearances for the Soviet Union from 1955-65, making him their third highest scorer of all time, behindOleg Blokhin with 39 and Oleg Protasov with 29. While Ivanov was scoring at one end, the Soviet net was protected by Lev Yashin, the "Black Spider," considered one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time.

A one-club man, Ivanov was Torpedo Moscow's most prolific goalscorer in their 80-year history, netting 124 goals in 287 appearances over 15 seasons from 1952-66. That was more than the club's other famous striker Eduard Streltsov, nicknamed "The Black Pelé", who scored 105. Ivanov himself was billed as a centre-forward but liked to come from deep, in the role of an inside forward. He helped Torpedo to the Soviet league and cup double in 1960 and to another league title in 1965.

"He was more of what you now call a playmaker than a pure centre-forward," according to his long-time teammate in the Soviet side, Viktor Ponedelnik, who scored that winning goal against Yugoslavia in the 1960European Championship final. "You always had to be alert on the pitchbecause he always had some tricks up his sleeve."

Ivanov went on manage Torpedo for three separate spells between 1967 and 1996, leading them to the Soviet league title in 1976 and the Soviet cup in 1968, 1972 and 1986. His only "infidelity" to Torpedo was a one-season spell as manager of Raja Club Athletic Casablanca in Morocco in 1992-93.

Valentin Kozmich Ivanov was born in Moscow in 1934. His skill and blistering pace spotted by a scout while playing at school, he joined Torpedo's juniors and found his way into the senior side at the age of 18. He had just turned 22 when he watched the Duke of Edinburgh declare open the 1956 Olympics at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. When the Soviet side went on to win the football gold, it was their first victory at world level, albeit in an undistinguished tournament featuring only 11 teams; India famously came fourth. It was at the Melbourne Games that Ivanov met the Soviet gymnast Lidiya Kalinina, who also won gold as part of the Soviet team, and they married the following year.

At the 1958 World Cup finals in Sweden – "Pelé's World Cup" – Ivanov scored twice but the Soviets were knocked out in the quarter-finals by the host nation. At the 1962 World Cup finals in Chile, he was one of six players who won a "Golden Boot" after scoring four goals each, including Garrincha, Vavá, and Hungary's Florian Albert, who died last month. The Soviet Union went out to hosts Chile in the quarter-final and Brazil went on to defend their title.

Ivanov's son, also Valentin, became an often-controversial Fifa referee, famously issuing four red cards and 16 yellows in a match between Portugal and the Netherlands at the 2006 World Cup finals in Germany, his last international tournament.

European football's governing body, Uefa, awarded Ivanov Snr its Order of Merit for "loyal and devoted service to football."

Ivanov had been suffering from Alzheimer's disease for several years.

Valentin Ivanov, footballer and coach: born Moscow 19 November 1934; married 1957 Lidiya Kalinina (one son); died Moscow 8 November 2011.