Life in black and white. The main talent of Soviet football lost his best years in prison

We can say that black and white colors haunted the great Soviet footballer all his life in one form or another – the colors of torpedo and prison uniforms, incredible and nightmarish segments of his career and life. In fact, it is not surprising that Streltsov’s fate turned out to be bright, but tragic. A love of booze and women coexisted with a fantastic talent – well, why not our answer to George Best? By the way, they lived approximately the same number of years – 53 and 59. These players flew across the football sky like comets who lit up everything around with their talent, but disappeared too quickly over the horizon.

The 1958 World Cup in Sweden could have been the pinnacle of 20-year-old Edward, but instead of a duel with another genius, the Brazilian Pele, the Soviet star was interrogated by investigators, realizing the horror of the situation and further bleak prospects. There were many questions around the criminal case: the victims were confused in the testimonies, changed them, wrote and then took away the statements of rape, and no concrete evidence of Eduard’s guilt was ever presented.

Photo source: RIA Novosti

There are several versions of the reason why the career of a talented star ended at the most inappropriate moment: the refusal of Straltsov to go to the clubs associated with the police, an indication “from above” of the first secretary of the Central Committee of the PCus Nikita Khrushchev after the future Minister of Culture Yekaterina Furseva turned to him, or in general, the potential intention of Eduard after the world Urss, starting to perform and live in one of the European countries. All of these are just theories and conjectures, and we will probably never know the real truth.

The sentence was harsh: 12 years in prison. Just horror, if you remember that shortly before those events, the famous France Football put 20-year-old Streltsov seventh in the list of contenders for the Ballon d’Or. After returning to the field, having served about half of his term, Eduard helped Torpedo win the club’s second USSR championship, scoring 12 goals in 26 games, and twice more became the best footballer in the country, but he was no longer the supertalent who was predicted a great future at a young age.

Photo source: Soviet Sports Archive

Unfortunately, there could have been more to a brilliant outstanding athlete in Soviet history, because we can only imagine what heights Streltsov could have reached if he had continued to play calmly. Gold from the 1956 Olympics, when the football tournament at the Games had a completely different status than today, no one will take away from him, but there may be more glorious achievements.

You can believe different versions of events, but, perhaps, it is difficult to deny one thing: a fantastic talent still could not stand the glory and universal adoration that fell upon him. Alas, Eduard is far from the first and certainly not the last to “burn out” on a terrible mixture of booze, endless partying and beautiful women. But, like a phoenix, Streltsov had the strength to be reborn. It’s a pity that his flame never burned so brightly afterward.


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