The art of goalkeeping: memorialising Lev Yashin

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Lev Yashin remains, in the eyes of many, the greatest goalkeeper, ever to have played the game of football. Since his death in 1990, coinciding with the dying days of the Soviet Union, his legacy has played an important role in post-Soviet history, a factor that is gaining more importance as Russia prepares to host the 2018 World Cup tournament. Yashin’s memory is notably being maintained in the public perception not least through the material form of two key sculptures erected in Moscow in the late 1990s. Yet these works, part of a wider international trend to memorialize footballers in the form of public monuments, offer more than a unique insight into Yashin’s career, status and reputation. They also address concerns about the relationship between art and sport as it emerged historically in the Soviet Union and how that cultural legacy is being re-explored in a post-Soviet context. Accordingly this essay examines these two key examples of football statuary as significant case studies through which issues relating to Soviet sport, history and art can be more widely analysed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)641-659
Number of pages19
JournalSport in Society: Cultures, Commerce, Media, Politics
Issue number5-6
Early online date22 Mar 2016
Publication statusPublished - 9 Mar 2017


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