He was compared to Pelé and was called to be the great figure of the 58 World Cup, but ended up imprisoned in Siberia accused of raping a minor

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Eduard Streltsov was a promise from the Soviet Union who was on his way to being one of the best players of the 20th century, but a denunciation and betrayal of his government changed his destiny

He was compared to Pelé and was called to be the great figure of the 58 World Cup, but he ended up imprisoned in Siberia accused of raping a minor


Fernando Taveira

The player was one of the most prominent figures in the history of the Soviet Union

For the World Cup in Sweden there were two promises that threatened to change the history of football: Edson Arantes Do Nascimento, Pelé, from Brazil and Eduard Streltsov of the Soviet Union. However, in the Scandinavian stadiums only the Santos star shone, since the native of Moscownever traveled to northern Europe for a strange accusation based on an alleged rape of a minor in the days before the start of the tournament.

The background supported the expectations aroused by the Soviet striker. At 18 years old he made his national team debut against Sweden in a match that ended 6 to 0 and is remembered by the 3 conquests of the young attacker . As in the following calls, Streltsov was once again shown off with 7 goals in 4 games, his presence at the Olympic Games in Melbourne was undisputed.

West Germany, Indonesia, Bulgaria < /b>andYugoslavia shaped the path of the champion in Australia. The Torpedo Moscow jewel scored 2 goals in the tournament, but didn't receive the gold medal because the coach decided not to include him in the final. As at that time, the International Olympic Committeehe only awarded the medals to those who participated in the decisive tests, his replacement, Nikita Simonyan, offered him the prize; but Streltsov turned him down with an answer that reflected his personality: “I will win many other titles in the future.”

Honored As a star of his country, together with the legendary goalkeeper Lev Yashin and Igor Netto, the authorities of the Soviet regime ordered him to continue his career at Dinamo Moscow< /b> (close to KGB) or CSKA Moscow (which had the influence of the army). But “the rebel” player refused because he did not share the ideology of his government.

He was compared to Pelé and was called to be the great figure of the 58 World Cup, but he ended up in prison. prisoner in Siberia accused of raping a minor

The Soviet national team shone during the fifties

The popularity acquired on the courts, its hectic nightlife, its hairstyle boyish, his constant incitement to freedom and his challenges to the communist leaders put the footballer in the eye of the storm. According to the book M Women, Vodka and Gulag, by the Italian Marco Iaria , he once publicly insulted the relatives of Yekaterina Furtseva, probably the most influential woman in politics in the Soviet Union, and her revolutionary spirit cut her career short.

Before traveling to the 1958 World Cup Eduard Streltsov received a rape complaint. A young woman named Marina Lebedeva accused the soccer player before the government and police authorities, but the striker denied all the charges.

With the desire to participate in the Worldwide, agreed to sign a confession in exchange for being allowed to play the international tournament. An agreement that never materialized, given that the player was transferred to a forced labor prison in Siberia, with a 12-year sentence.

The decision sparked demonstrations in Moscow. As Luciano Wernicke recalled in Unusual World Cup Stories, Nearly 100,000 workers of the Zil automaker (linked to the Torpedo) They took to the streets to claim the unjust position that the government took against their idol. Without Pelé Blanco in their ranks, the Soviet Union was eliminated by the local team in the quarterfinals .

Five years later Streltsov was released and in 1965 he rejoined the Torpedo to win the domestic league and reach the semi-finals of the European Champions Cup. Despite the physical difficulties caused by his captivity, his talent remained intact.

At 33 years old he retired to become a coach, a profession he pursued in the lower divisions of his only team until 1990, when he died at the age of 53 due to larynx cancer. His remains are buried in the Vagánkovo ​​ cemetery in Moscow , where the grave of Lev Yashin is also located. On the seventh anniversary of his death, Marina Lebedeva, the woman of the accusation for which the footballer was imprisoned, was seen laying flowers on his tombstone to honor his memory.

In honor of the player, the Torpedo field was renamed to Eduard Streltsov Stadium in 1996. A sculpture at the entrance of the property recalls the exploits of the scorer. Nowadays, every time a footballer makes a cue pass, the Russians say he made a Streltsov.