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Eduard Streltsov

Eduard Streltsov
A commemorative two-ruble coin bearing Streltsov's likeness was issued in 2010.
Personal information
Full nameEduard Anatolyevich Streltsov
Date of birth21 July 1937
Place of birthPerovo, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
Date of death22 July 1990(age 53)
Place of deathMoscow, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
Height1.82 m (5 ft 11.6 in)
Playing positionForward
Attacking midfielder

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Eduard Anatolyevich Streltsov ( ) (21 July 1937 22 July 1990) was a Soviet footballer who represented Torpedo Moscow as a forward. Joining Torpedo at the age of 16 from the Fraser factory team in 1953, Streltsov made his international début two years later and played a key role in winning the gold medal for the Soviet national team at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. Judged by Western European sports journalists to be among the top seven footballers in Europe during 1957, Streltsov's promising career was then interrupted at the age of 20 by a conviction of rape that led to five years in prison.

Streltsov was accused of raping a 20-year-old woman, Marina Lebedeva, in 1958. After being told an admission of guilt would allow his participation in the 1958 World Cup, Streltsov confessed to the crime, despite inconclusive evidence against him. Instead sentenced to twelve years in a labour camp, Streltsov was released after five and resumed his football career with Torpedo Moscow two years later. In the first season of his comeback, Torpedo won the Soviet Championship for only the second time in their history. He returned to the Soviet national team in 1966, won the Soviet Cup with his club two years later, and was named Soviet Footballer of the Year in 1967 and 1968.

Streltsov retired in 1970, and died in Moscow in July 1990. In 1996, Torpedo renamed their home ground "Eduard Streltsov Stadium" in his honour; the following year, the Russian Football Union named the highest individual honour in Russian football after him. A statue of Streltsov was erected at the Luzhniki Olympic Complex in 1998, and in 1999 Torpedo built a second outside their stadium.

Streltsov was widely regarded as one of the Soviet Union's finest players, earning the nickname "the Russian Pelé". British author Jonathan Wilson called him "the greatest outfield player Russia has ever produced", while in the words of Soviet football writer Aleksandr Nilin, "the boy came to us from the land of wonder". The powerful and skilful attacking player pioneered innovations such as the back-heeled pass, which became known in Russia as "Streltsov's pass", and scored the fourth highest number of goals for the Soviet national team despite his eight-year absence from international football.

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