Top 15 Russian and Soviet Footballers Ever

Who is the best Russian footballer of all time?

The national team of Russia (formerly known as Soviet Union) has obtained many prestigious achievements in the world of football. The team won the Euro 1960 and claimed two Olympic gold medals. Their most recent feat was reaching the semifinal of Euro 2008 under the guidance of coach Guus Hiddink.

Not only participating in various international tournaments, Russia (Soviet Union) also has produced many talented footballers. Some names such as Lev Yashin, Oleg Blokhin and Rinat Dasayev are even regarded as legends in the world of football. The question is, who is the greatest among them?

15. Roman Pavlyuchenko

Roman Pavlyuchenko's career began to climb when he performed brilliantly in Euro 2008. In the tournament, the striker scored three goals and helped his country reach the semi-finals. His brilliant forms made Tottenham Hotspur sign Pavlyuchenko for a high transfer value, just a few weeks after Euro 2008. Unfortunately, at Tottenham Hotspur he showed unstable performances. He was often hit by injuries and struggled hard to adjust to the playing style of English football. Pavlyuchenko finally returned to Russia in 2012, joining Lokomotiv Moscow.

14. Oleg Salenko

Oleg Salenko shocked the world of football when he scored five goals in a match against Cameroon in the 1994 World Cup. At the end of the tournament, Salenko managed to become the top scorer, despite his team was eliminated in the first round. Unfortunately, after his impressive performance in the World Cup, his performances dramatically declined. He wasn't included in Russian squad and showed only mediocre forms at club level.

13. Sergei Ignashevich

Ignashevich is a versatile defender. He could be positioned as a center back, right back, sweeper, or a defensive midfielder. His performances at club and national team level are quite solid, making him secure a place in the first-team squad. Throughout his career, he won five Russian League titles with CSKA and Lokomotiv Moscow. Ignashevich was also a key player who helped CSKA claim the UEFA Cup in 2005.

12. Yuri Zhirkov

Yuri Zhirkov could be regarded as one of Russia's best left midfielders in the last decade. He possesses exceptional techniques, dribbling, and creativity. His best career happened at CSKA Moscow in the 2004-2008 period, when Zhirkov won the UEFA Cup trophy, three Russian League titles, and was voted Footballer of the Year in Russia in 2008. He moved to Chelsea in 2009 and won a Premier League title and an FA Cup before returning to Russian league in 2011.

11. Igor Akinfeev

Igor Akinfeev is the most talented goalkeepers to ever play in the Russian League. He made his debut at the age of 17 years with CSKA Moscow, and since then has always played as the first-team goalkeeper. Together with CSKA Moscow, Akinfeev has won five Russian League titles, six Russian Cups, and a UEFA Cup trophy. He also obtained many individual awards, including five Lev Yashin Prize "Goalkeeper of the year."

10. Vasili Berezutski

Together with Sergei Ignashevich, Vasili Berezutski is the mainstay of the Russian national team's defense line in the last five years. This player joined CSKA Moscow in 2002 and has won five league titles, seven Russian Cups, and one UEFA Cup. In addition to playing as a central defender, Berezutski can also be positioned as a wingback. He is strong, but also quite fast, agile, and aggressive.

9. Aleksandr Kerzhakov

With a total of 209 goals, Aleksandr Kerzhakov is the all-time top scorer of Russian League. He is known as an industrious striker who possesses outstanding techniques and effective in scoring goals. The best period of his career occurred in 2004 when playing for Zenit St. Petersburg. At that time Kerzakhov helped his club claim the Russian League as well as becoming the top scorer of the tournament. He also had a brief career at Sevilla, winning a UEFA Cup trophy and one Copa del Rey.

8. Igor Netto

Igor Netto was the captain of the Soviet Union when the team won the European Cup in 1960. Playing as a central midfielder, Igor Netto possessed excellent attacking instincts and dribbling skills. He also sometimes could play as a left back or a second striker. Not only at the national team level, Netto also had a successful career at the club level with Spartak Moscow . During 17 years of joining the club, he won five league titles and three Soviet Cups.

7. Andrey Arshavin

Andrey Arshavin is often referred as one of Arsenal's best midfielder of all time. Although he did not win any trophy with the Gunners, Arshavin showed a charming performances, including scoring four goals in a game against Liverpool in 2009. His career at Zenit St. Petersburg was also quite brilliant, in which he won two Russian League titles, one UEFA Cup, and one UEFA Super Cup.

6. Vladimir Beschastnykh

With a record of 26 goals, Vladimir Beschastnykh is Russian national team top scorer of all time. The striker represented his country in two World Cups (1994 and 2002) as well as one Euro tournament (1996). At club level, Beschastnykh claimed four Russia League titles with Spartak Moscow. He also briefly played in the Bundesliga with Werder Bremen, in the Spanish league with Racing Santander, and in the Turkish league with Fenerbahce.

5. Viktor Onopko

Viktor Onopko is a Russian player with the most number of caps, representing his country in 109 international matches. The defender spent most of his career playing in the Spanish league with Real Oviedo and Rayo Vallecano. However, the best period of his career happened just before he played in Spain, precisely at Spartak Moscow from 1992 to 1995. During that period, Onopko won three league titles and twice elected as Russian Footballer of the Year.

4. Rinat Dasayev

Besides Lev Yashin, Rinat Dasayev is regarded as one of the best Soviet goalkeepers of all time. He played for his country in the 1979-1990 period, the total appeared in 91 international matches. One of the best Dasayev achievements is winning a silver medal for his country in the 1980 Olympics. Due to his greatness as a goalkeeper, Dasayev earned a nickname "Iron Curtain" from football journalists.

3. Valentin Ivanov Kozmich

Valentin Ivanov was the Soviet Union national team striker in the 1960s. He was the top scorer of the 1962 World Cup and Euro 1960. His achievements with the national team of the Soviet Union is also quite encouraging, where he helped the team win the Euro 1960 and become the runner-up of Euro 1964. As a striker, he was known as a very creative player with outstanding dribbling skills. During his 14-year career as a professional footballer, Ivanov only played for one club, Torpedo Moscow. At the club, he scored 124 goals in 286 appearances.

2. Oleg Blokhin

In terms of statistics, Oleg Blokhin deserves to be named the best Soviet player of all time. He holds the record of the most number of caps and the most number of goals scored for his country, with a total of 42 goals in 112 appearances. Not only that, Blokhin who played in the 1969-1990 period was also very successful at the club level. Together Dynamo Kyv (at that time, the club competed in Soviet Union League), he won eight league titles, two Winners' Cups, and one UEFA Super Cup. He was also awarded the European Footballer of the Year in 1975.

1. Lev Yashin

Lev Yashin is a legendary goalkeeper in whose contribution in the world of football will never be forgotten. The goalkeeper is considered one of the best penalty-stoppers in the history and managed to record 270 clean sheets in his career. Yashin also helped his country win the Olympic gold medal in 1956 and claimed the European Cup in 1960. In 1963, Yashin created a record by winning the Ballon d'Or. At club level, he had a successful career at Dynamo Moscow, winning five League titles and three Soviet Cups.

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