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Discussion Starter #1
I decided to use this old O.Nejedly thread for re-collection of interesting football stories from past. Feel free to add mor stories, or comment bellow ones.


Part I - How was Zdenej Nejedly robbed of being World Cup 1934 top scorer


Oldrich Nejedly played in two World Cups - World Cup 1934 in Italy and World Cup 1938 in France - and was one of the top goal scorers in the 1934 cup with four goals. He originally shared this accolade with two other players, Angelo Schiavio of Italy and Edmund Conen of Germany, yet FIFA revised the tally in 2006 (16 years after his death) awarding him a previously disallowed goal which brought his tally to five, thus making him sole top goal scorer. Nejedly also went on to score two more goals in World Cup 1938.



As Nejedly stated in one older interview from 1990, few weeks before his death, Germans tried to rob him for the title of sole top scorer of World Cup 1934. He sunk Germans with his hat-trick in semis (´21, ´60, ´81, but Germans claimed he scored only first 2, third being scored by Krcil.

Nejedly: "and the third one was my fav one. Junek threw a ball, I silenced it, turned and fired"

"I scored hattrick, it was the best day of my life. How could I forget about the third one...was my best one I scored this day."

Acc.Nejedly, first who denied his hattrick were German publishers. Nazis probably couldn´t survive the fact of being eliminated by Czechs and at the same time, Czech player being a top scorer.

Instead of being a sole top scorer with 5, he had to share the spot with Schiavio - and german Conen.

Football historicians started investigation and as a result, FIFA oficcially changed statistics. Nejedly, 16 years after his death, was officially acknowledged as sole top scorer of World Cup 1934.



 

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Part II - Gyula Grosics´dark past

here

Gyula Grosics is in the news again, although it was quite some time ago that the Black Leopard was the idol of the country. In case not everyone is familiar with the source of his fame, he was the goalie of the Hungarian national soccer team known as the Golden Team (Aranycsapat), and he was called the black leopard because he dressed in black. The Hungarian team had been undefeated for three years and ranked No. 1 in the world when they played against England, ranked No. 3 but undefeated by any foreign team on its home turf for ninety years! It was 1953, and the British press hyped the match by christening it the Match of the Century. Even those who didn't care at all about soccer but who either listened to the match over the radio or learned about the results later (Hungary trounced the English 6-3) can still rattle off the names of the players: Bozsik, Budai, Buzánszky, Czibor, Gellér, Grosics, Hidegkuti, Kocsis, Lantos, Lórant, Puskás and Zakariás.

If I'm correct, of the twelve only two are still alive: Buzánszky and Grosics. Buzánszky, although still active in the Hungarian Soccer Association and the subject of a book last year, is not in the news as frequently as Grosics, who at almost every Fidesz meeting or demonstration can be seen sitting right behind Viktor Orbán. Orbán, himself a soccer player, finds it politically important to collect famous faces as backdrops to Fidesz's carefully orchestrated performances. Orbán obviously figures that if he can show the country that such famous people as Gyula Grosics are in his camp, then Fidesz must be more than okay.

There is no question that Grosics is a man of decidedly rightist political views. The once good-looking Grosics is not in the best shape. He is in and out of hospitals. Every time he undergoes treatment the prognosis is bleak, but then he bounces back. He is released and soon enough is expounding on his favorite political themes. His criticism of the Rákosi and Kádár regimes sounds a bit hollow because, after all, he and his colleagues lived extraordinarily well in those days. They were pampered because their accomplishments brought fame to the country and a certain level of support for the regime from the soccer loving population. Yet Grosics attacks the regime that practically made him with astonishing fervor.

Although it is hard to know how much one can believe Grosics (as we will see later he is not the most reliable storyteller), it seems that he was born into a dirt poor family. His father worked in a coal mine as a locksmith and the family lived in two rooms, kitchen and living-bedroom, without running water. However, his parents were ambitious and thought that their son might succeed if he became a priest. We must remember that Grosics was born in 1926. Instead of the priesthood came soccer and fame.

According to the biography released by the Sports Museum, in 1944--that is when Grosics was eighteen years old, Szálasi's men "collected the members of Levente," a paramilitary youth organization, and "with food for three days they were sent west by train. They apparently reached Salzburg where they spent their days in camps." According to the biography, details of which were obviously supplied by Grosics, "they could return to Hungary only in August 1945." Relatives thought them dead, but they were only half starved.

This story is not quite accurate. It is indeed very possible that Grosics spent some time in Austria and it is also likely that he didn't return to Hungary until August 1945, but, as we will soon discover, his trip west had nothing to do with the Levente organization.

This year the City of Budapest wanted to honor Grosics and decided to present the freedom of the city (díszpolgár) to him. He took a good look at the list, decided that all the other recipients were politically to the left of him, and announced that he was not going to accept the honor. For good measure he added that he didn't want to join a list of recipients that contains the name of Joseph Stalin. He also called the mayor of Budapest, Gábor Demszky, a well known opponent of the Kádár regime, a communist. Stalin is not on the list because the city council more than five years ago unanimously decided that "Stalin is no longer considered to be a citizen of the city." However, Grosics either didn't take notice or, if he did, he doesn't care. Once these fellows get something into their heads it sticks. Facts don't matter.

There is a saying that "people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones." How true it is in this case. As soon as the media became full of Grosics's decision not to accept the honor, someone discovered an old story buried in a book about Viktor Orbán (Péter Kende, Az igazi Orbán. A Viktor 2 [Budapest: Hibiszkusz, 2006]). I read the book when it came out, but I must admit I had completely forgotten the story. According to documents unearthed by Kende from the Archives of the National Security Office, Gyula Grosics in the 1980s suddenly decided that he wanted to become a party member. The district party committee sent the application to the Ministry of Interior, a routine followed with every membership application. To their greatest surprise the word came back that Grosics couldn't be accepted as a member of the party because in 1944-45 he had been a volunteer in the 25th SS Hunyadi Páncélgránátos Hadosztály (SS Hunyadi Armored Division). They added that according to the Treaty of Paris any volunteer in this SS division is a "war criminal."

A huge upheaval followed and the case went up all the way to János Kádár, who didn't budge: no party membership. "Our Gyula should support socialism and the party as a Bolshevik without party membership. After all, what would the Soviet comrades say if we allow a man who served in the SS into the party," says Kende sarcastically in the book. As compensation he received a salary from two different places. In addition, he remained an officer in the army, receiving income from that source as well.

One can add an interesting tidbit in this connection. In November 1956 Grosics escaped from Hungary with his family and joined the rest of the team that happened to be abroad. They toured South America after which they returned to Vienna. There he decided to return to Hungary while Kocsis and Czibor chose Barcelona and Puskás the Real Madrid. According to Kende he returned to Hungary not because of homesickness but because he was told abroad that they were aware of his past and therefore his chances of playing soccer in the west were slim. If that was the case, the foreign clubs must have received this information from the Hungarian government.

When Kende found these documents in the Archives, he believed that Fidesz didn't know the details of Grosics's sordid past and that's why he could have a place of honor at Fidesz meetings. However, it turned out that Kende was wrong. Viktor Orbán knew about Grosics. Kende spoke with one of the officials from the MSZMP district party headquarters who knew about Grosics's membership application. This official, it turns out, passed the information on to his acquaintances in the Fidesz leadership. Obviously, Grosics's SS past didn't and doesn't bother them.

In addition to the 2006 revelations by Kende there is a newer exposé that appeared in April 2009. The author is Tamás Szemenyei-Kiss, a controversial man about whom I wrote at some length on July 16, 2008. The title of the piece is "Legenda és valóság" (Legend and Reality). Szemenyei-Kiss used the same documents as Kende, but he also visited the Archives of the Military History and the Hungarian National Library. He most likely also used two books that appeared after the publication of Kende's volume on Viktor Orbán. One contains a series of interviews with Grosics conducted by a person whose political sympathies most likely more or less agree with his. I base this supposition on the publisher, Kairosz, where for example Zsolt Bayer's books have been published. The editor of the 2007 book is Ildikó Benkei and its title Fekete párduc a nemzet szolgálatában (The Black Leopard in the service of the nation). Another book is by András Kő, A Grosics (Apriori International Kft, 2008). Szemenyei-Kiss draws from these sources to recount some of the stories (tales) told by Grosics that are highly suspect. What I can't understand is why Grosics, given his past, is calling attention to himself.
 

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Part III - Sindelar: the ballad of the tragic hero ?

Matthias Sindelar was probably Austria's greatest-ever player, and his mysterious death only adds to the legend, says Jonathan Wilson

It was 69 years ago today that Matthias Sindelar, the tragic hero of Austrian football, represented his country for the final time. Austria had been annexed on March 12 and, to mark the birth of the new, united team, a "Reconciliation Match" was staged between the Ostmark and Germany. For Sindelar, it proved an extraordinary swansong.

Sindelar, an awkward, edgy character, had made clear that he was fundamentally opposed to the Anschluss, but, despite the fact that, at 35, he had begun to wind down his international career, he insisted on playing. Nicknamed Der Papierene ('the Paper-man' or, perhaps more idiomatically, 'the Wafer') because of his slight build, Sindelar had been the centre-forward of the Wunderteam, the idiosyncratic darling of the Viennese coffee-houses that dominated the cultural commentary of the age.

"In a way he had brains in his legs," the theatre critic Alfred Polgar wrote, "and many remarkable and unexpected things occurred to them while they were running. Sindelar's shot hit the back of the net like the perfect punch-line, the ending that made it possible to understand and appreciate the perfect composition of the story, the crowning of which it represented."

It is hard to be sure exactly what happened against Germany. Fact has become obscured by subsequent myths, but what is clear is that Sindelar missed a series of chances in the first half. Given how frequently he rolled the ball a fraction wide of the posts, contemporary reports suggested he might have been mocking the Germans - and supposed orders not to score - by missing on purpose. That, frankly, sounds implausible, but if it is a myth, it was widespread, and was being propagated by the following day's newspapers.

Eventually, midway through the second half, Sindelar tucked in a rebound, and, when his friend Schasti Sesta later looped in a second from a free-kick, he celebrated by dancing in front of a directors' box packed with high-ranking Nazis. That was less than wise, and must have ruffled a few feathers, but it is a far stretch from that to claim, as some have done, that it was directly responsible for Sindelar's death the following January.

What is true is that, in the months that followed, Sindelar, who never made any secret of his Social Democratic leanings, repeatedly refused to play for Germany. In August 1938, he bought a café from Leopold Drill, a Jew forced to give it up under new legislation - paying a very fair DM20,000, as those who idolise him are quick to point out - and was censured by the authorities for his reluctance to put up Nazi posters. He was not, though, an out-and-out dissident.

Then, on the morning of January 23 1939, his friend Gustav Hartmann, looking for Sindelar, broke down the door of a flat on Annagasse. He found the great centre-forward, naked and dead, lying alongside the unconscious form of his girlfriend of 10 days, Camilla Castignola. She died later in hospital, the victim, like Sindelar, of asphyxiation by carbon monoxide fumes from a faulty heater.

Or at least that was the police said, as they ended their enquiries after two days. The Public Prosecutor, though, had still not reached a conclusion six months later when the Nazi authorities ordered the case be closed. Others came up with their own explanations. On January 25, a piece in the Austrian newspaper Kronen Zeitung claimed that "everything points towards this great man having become the victim of murder through poisoning". In "Gedicht vom Tode eines Fussballers" ("Ballad on the Death of a Footballer"), Friedrich Torberg, one of the foremost coffee-house writers, suggested suicide by a man who felt "disowned" by "the new order". In an over-simplistic 2003 BBC documentary, Egon Ulbrich, a friend of Sindelar, claimed a local official was bribed to record his death as an accident, which ensured that he would receive a state funeral.

And yet the truth is that, emotionally appealing as several of the theories are, when you hack through the jungle of rumour and half-truth that has sprung up around the case, the facts suggest Sindelar was simply the victim of an accident. Despite various claims, the police records have neither been destroyed nor gone missing. They are still there in Vienna, and accessible. There have been suggestions that Sindelar and/or Castignola were Jewish. It is true that Sindelar played for Austria Vienna, the club of the Jewish bourgeoisie, and came from Moravia, from where several Jews had migrated to Vienna, but his family was Catholic. It is just about conceivable that Castignola, an Italian, may have had Jewish origins, but they were well enough hidden that she had been allowed to become co-owner of a bar in the week before her death.

But the most telling piece of evidence is that the upstairs neighbours had complained a few days earlier that one of the chimneys in the block was defective. Some have pointed out that there was no smell of gas in the flat, but then there wouldn't have been; carbon monoxide is odourless. For all that, the sense that heroes cannot mundanely die had prevailed. Sindelar has become a cipher, an empty vessel into which has been poured the preoccupations of the time. What, after all, could better symbolise Austria at the point of the Anschluss than this athlete-artist being gassed alongside his Jewish girlfriend?

"The good Sindelar followed the city, whose child and pride he was, to its death," Polgar wrote in his obituary. "He was so inextricably entwined with it that he had to die when it did. All the evidence points to suicide prompted by loyalty to his homeland. For to live and play football in the downtrodden, broken, tormented city meant deceiving Vienna with a repulsive spectre of itself ... But how can one play football like that? And live, when a life without football is nothing?"

It is a beautiful sentiment, but it is not necessarily the truth.

there are 3 theories of Sindelar´s death:


1. Accident (carbon monoxide poisoning from leaking chimney) - this was also official version
2. Suicide (acc. Friedrich Torberg´s rommantic poem Death of a footballer)
3. Murdered by nazis (Gestapo files marked him as a pro-jewish)

There are several known facts:

1. Sindelar refused to play for unified german team

2. Sindelar made some pro-jewish statements after annexation of Austria.

3. 2003 BBC documentary featuring Egon Ulbrich, Sindelar´s close friend claimed a local official was bribed to record his death as an accident, which ensured that he would receive a state funeral.

4. Nazis tried to currupt Sindelar by selling him nationalised jewish property for bargain price. Sindelar bought Caffé Annahof of Jewish owner Leopold Drill who was forced by NSDAP-administrator of the nationalised property Franz Reithner to sell his property for the 20000 RM´s (Reichsmark), fragment of it´s estimated price (76000 RM). Mr.Drill not only didn´t get nothing but was heavily indebted. Property administrator Reither made an artificial debts that had to be cleared first - this was the official robbery performed by Nazis on jewish owners. After the war, in 1950, Drill´s daughter took over the "Café Sindelar" from Sindelar´s sister.

It´s necessary to say that only NSDAP members and sympatisants were privileged to buy cheap jewish property in late ´30s. It doesn´t make Sindelar a Nazi or pro-Nazi, but taking part on "Arisation" isn´t supporting romantic theories about Sindelar being a victim of Nazi Germany.
 

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Part IV Josep Sunyol, martyr president

Josep Sunyol has gone down in Fútbol Club Barcelona history as the ‘martyr president’ as a result of his tragic death when he was in charge of the club in the early days of the Civil War and was shot by Franco’s troops in the summer of 1936.

Sunyol (Barcelona 1898- Serra del Guadarrama 1936), was a man of outstanding personality and was highly respected by all at FC Barcelona when he joined the board in 1928, curiously enough during the presidency of Arcadi Balaguer, a staunch monarchist and therefore a man of a very different political upbringing to his own. He was President of the Catalan Football Federation in the season 1929-30. In the years of the Republic, Sunyol was notorious both for his political activities, as the leader of left wing group Esquerra Republicana, and for his involvement in the sporting world. In the latter field, he was noteworthy as the creator and owner of the weekly magazine called 'La Rambla', which was distributed under the slogan “sport and citizenship”.

On July 27, 1935 he was elected president of Fútbol Club Barcelona. The members put their faith in him because he was the man they felt could sort out the club’s financial problems, a task that had already been started by his predecessor, Esteve Sala, who would now become treasurer, and who, along with accountant Francesc Xavier Casals, would help Sunyol to close the season at a considerable profit. On the pitch, the team won the Catalan Championship and reached that famous 1936 Cup Final, at which the then goalkeeper of Real Madrid, Zamora, won the title for his team with a memorable performance.

But Josep Sunyol’s brilliant career was cut short in tragic fashion on August 6, 1936, when as part of his political activities, the Barça president visited Republican troops near to Madrid. Without noticing, his car entered a zone controlled by Frano’s troops in Sierra de Guadarrama. Sunyol was identified and arrested, and without trial, he and his colleagues were shot dead on the spot. News of his death did not reach Barcelona until a week later, where it would cause a major commotion on all levels of society. As a posthumous tribute between the 16th of November and the 17th of January 1939 the Board of Directors decided to name Josep Sunyol FC Barcelona President in absentiaf.

The shooting of Josep Sunyol was the prelude for one of the most difficult periods the club has ever gone through.
 

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Part V - Dynamo Kiev´s Death Match

According to Soviet propaganda, the match was conducted in order to portray the best qualities of the Aryan race and force the footballers of Dynamo Kiev to play against the Luftwaffe team under the condition of loss or death. The Dynamo players did not heed the ultimatum, went on to win the match, and paid for their victory with their lives. They were all arrested and later executed by firing squad. Later sources only mentioned four deaths.


The "Death Match" came to public attention in 1958, after Petro Severov published the article "The Last Duel" in the Evening Kiev newspaper. The following year Severov, together with Naum Khalemsky, published a book with the same name that told the story of FC Start and its struggle against the Nazi occupiers. Memoirs by Makar Honcharenko followed.

The story became romanticized and widely popular in the Soviet Union, especially in the Ukraine area. Two movies based on the story - Third Time (Mosfilm, 1964) and The Match of Death - were released. The story also inspired two non-Soviet films: the 1961 Hungarian film Két félidő a pokolban and the 1981 American film Escape to Victory. The 2003 novel Match of Death by James Riordan retells the story.

In 1971 a sculptural monument to the perished footballers was unveiled at the Zenit Stadium in Kiev by the sculptor Ivan Horovyi. On the monument are the words of Stepan Oliynyk in Ukrainian:
“ For our beautiful presence
They fell in a fight...
For ages your glory won't fade,
The fearless hero-athletes.​
Instead of whole team dying because of refusing to lose, only 3 players of Dynamo were killed by nazis in nazi camp, and their death was not related to thee "death match" but due to revolt that resulted in killing every 10th prisoner. 3 Dynamo players appeared to be among those unlucky ones. The rest of Dynamo players that played that game survived but were forced by commies to live post war lives in anonymnity, because according this myth they should be all dead, being instantly killed by nazis.
 

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Interesting stuff Kajoo. :thumbsup:

The two are intertwined as much as people deny or dislike.
 

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TOP-CLASS stuff once again, Kajoo: you're keeping me from making a few entries that I've been trying to do in the "Memoirs-" thread.
 

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your story about Grosics. :thumbsup:

he is a sore and self-righteous old man. does nothing but talking politics nationalist bollox all the time. met him once (in 2004). can't stand him.
 

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Part VI - Lutz Eigendorf´s story

On 20 March 1979, after a friendship match between Dynamo and West German club 1. FC Kaiserslautern in Gießen he fled to the west hoping to play for that team. But because of his defection he was banned from play for one year by UEFA and instead spent that time as a youth coach with the club.
This was not the first time an East German athlete had fled to the west, but it was a particularly embarrassing defection. Eigendorf's club Dynamo was under the patronage of the Stasi, East Germany's secretive state police, and subject to the personal attentions of the organisation's head, Erich Mielke. He ensured that the club's roster was made up of the country's best players, as well as arranging for the manipulation of matches in Dynamo's favour. After his defection Eigendorf openly criticised the DDR in the western media.
His wife Gabriele remained behind in Berlin with their daughter and was placed under constant police surveillance. Lawyers working for the Stasi quickly arranged a divorce and the former Frau Eigendorf re-married. Her new husband was eventually revealed as a Lothario – an agent of the state police whose role it was to spy on a suspect while romancing them.
In 1983 Eigendorf moved from Kaiserslautern to join Eintracht Braunschweig, all the while under the scrutiny of the Stasi who employed a number of West Germans as informants. On 5 March that year he was badly injured in a suspicious traffic accident and died within two days. An autopsy indicated a high blood alcohol level despite the testimony of people he had met with that evening indicating that Eigendorf had only a small amount of beer to drink.
After German re-unification and the subsequent opening of the files of the former East Germany's state security service it was revealed that the traffic accident had been an assassination attempt orchestrated by the Stasi, confirming the longtime suspicions held by many. A summary report of the events surrounding Eigendorf's death was made on German television on 22 March 2000 which detailed an investigation by Heribert Schwan in the documentary "Tod dem Verräter" ("Death to the Traitor").
On 10 February 2010, a former East German spy revealed the Stasi ordered him to kill Eigendorf, which he claimed not to have done.


http://www.saladellamemoriaheysel.it/Calci nel cuore/Lutz_Eigendorf.html
 

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Discussion Starter #10
thanks for feedback guys, nice input Toni :thumbsup: (I added Part VI to your story)
 

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Pat VII - Sándor Szűcs, Martyr of Újpest

Sándor Szűcs (23 November 1921 - 4 June 1951) was a Hungarian football player. He started to play for Szolnoki MÁV, but he spent his best years playing for Újpest FC as a defender and helped the club win the Hungarian League in three consecutive years from 1945 to 1947.

Between 1941 and 1948 Szűcs played 19 times for Hungary, being one of the best defenders of Europe during the 1940s. He played together with such great players as Ferenc Szusza and Gyula Zsengellér for Újpest and Ferenc Puskás, József Bozsik, Ferenc Deák, György Sárosi or Nándor Hidegkuti for Hungary.

After the communist take-over of Hungary, an era of conceptual, pre-arranged trials was started by the regime, with many victims. Also, the communist party tried to get involved in every part of everyday life, and renaming the club Újpest to Budapesti Dózsa and putting them under police control was just one step of the process.

In 1951, as a result of a pre-conceived plan, Szűcs, who was still an active player of Újpest, was tricked and blackmailed into defecting by the ÁVÓ. However, as the organizer of the events, the state police captured him not far from the border. After months spent in prison, he was sentenced to death for High treason during a secret, pre-arranged trial and later executed. The law referred in the sentence had never been used and was never used again.

The real reason behind the events was to warn off Puskás, Bozsik and other members of the Hungarian Golden Team from defection. The exercise was "successful", since no other Hungarian football players tried to leave the country until 1956.

All the newspapers and books issued in Hungary withheld every piece of information, and officially nobody knew about the execution until the political changes in the country in 1989. Additionally, the place of his grave was strictly confidential. After the communist regime's fall, Szűcs's story was widely published. In 1989 the death sentence was revoked and named a violation of the law. In 1991, he was posthumously awarded a police lieutenant-colonel title (Újpest was the police club from 1950), and he had to become a policeman. Since 1993, an elementary school was named after him in Újpest, while a football tournament for youth players of the district is held every year. A documentary movie was filmed on his story in 2005.

Today, the once forgotten Sándor Szűcs is regarded as a martyr, who was a victim of the Stalinist regime's rampage, and the only Hungarian football player to be executed.
 

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Today, the once forgotten Sándor Szűcs is regarded as a martyr, who was a victim of the Stalinist regime's rampage, and the only Hungarian football player to be executed.
wanted to add that story myself today but you were quicker.

however, he was not the only player to be executed.

Tóth-Potya István was before him.

ok, it was after his player career, but still, he was coaching in Italy until the war began.

I mentioned it before in my magyarfoci history thread, in WWII he was member of the hungarian anti-fascist Résistance but the Gestapo caught him and the Nyilasok executed him later.
 

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Part VIII - Eduard Streltsov

Steltsov's story is quite interesting.


Last week, Valentin Ivanov was finally given the gold medal he missed out on at the 1956 Olympics. The Soviet forward had been a key member of the side but was injured in the semi-final against Bulgaria, missed the final and fell foul of the policy of the time that dictated only those who played in the gold-medal match received medals. Inevitably, thoughts also drifted to the other great forward who missed out on the final: Eduard Streltsov. His gold medal will never be awarded.

Streltsov had been magnificent in the semi-final. The right-back Nikolay Tyschenko had broken a collarbone and, with Ivanov also struggling, the USSR were effectively down to nine men when Bulgaria took the lead early in extra-time. Streltsov, though, dragged his side forward, scored the equaliser after 112 minutes and then set up an improbable winner four minutes later.

The Soviet coach, Gavriil Kachalin wanted a front pair who played together at club level, so with Ivanov out of the final, he dropped Streltsov as well. He was replaced by Nikita Simonyan, who offered him his medal after the final. Streltsov refused. "He said to me, 'Nikita, I will win many other trophies,'" recalled Simonyan. He was wrong.

His confidence was understandable. Even at 18, Streltsov was a tall, powerful forward, possessed of a fine first touch and extraordinary footballing intelligence. A year earlier, he had come seventh in the voting for European Player of the Year. Charismatic and good-looking to boot, it seemed that he had the world at his feet.

And then, on May 25 1958, he left the USSR's pre-World Cup training camp at Tarasovka, just outside Moscow, and went to a party at a dacha belonging to Eduard Karakhanov, a military officer recently returned from a posting in the far east. The following morning he was arrested and charged with the rape of Marina Lebedeva, a young woman he'd met at the party.

He confessed, apparently after being told that, by doing so, he'd be allowed to play in the World Cup. He was promptly sentenced to 12 years in the gulag, and was quietly airbrushed from history. Released after seven years, remarkably, he returned to his club, Torpedo - always the smallest of the five Moscow sides - and in his first season back led them to the league title. In 1967 and 1968 he was named Soviet Player of the Year. Whatever happened at Tarasovka that night, his is an astonishing story. The question that won't go away is: was he guilty?

Russian football - and western journalists looking for an easy story - would love to believe Streltsov was framed, and it is not difficult to understand why. He remains the greatest outfield player Russia has ever produced and it is not inconceivable that, given the opportunity to play, he would have outshone even the 17-year-old Pele at the 1958 Word Cup. It would be easier to revere him, though, if he were not a convicted rapist. That is why there is a need to exonerate him, but it is also easy to understand why Russian football is so drawn to a talent who withstood state oppression and emerged triumphant - how it would love that to be an allegory for its own travails.

The obvious question to ask is why anyone would have framed Streltsov. There is a theory that he was targeted for refusing to leave Torpedo, which was based on the ZIL motor factory, to join Dinamo, the team of the KGB, but the more plausible reason has its roots in his womanising. There seems to have been a general concern that Streltsov was becoming rather too much of a celebrity, but the specific problem was his supposed relationship with the daughter of Yekaterina Furtseva, the only woman ever to become a member of the Politburo.

Svetlana Furtseva was 16, and apparently besotted with Streltsov. Her mother, a favourite of Nikita Khrushchev, met the forward early in 1957 at a reception at the Kremlin to celebrate the Olympic victory. She mentioned his likely marriage to her daughter, to which he replied: "I already have a fiancée and I will not marry her." As if that wasn't humiliating enough, he was later heard to say to a friend (depending which account you believe) either "I would never marry that monkey" or "I would rather be hanged than marry such a girl." If the conspiracy theorists are to be believed, it was at that moment his card was marked.

Certainly the reaction to his sending-off in Odessa that April appears excessive. The headline in Sovetsky Sport read: "This is not a hero", and several letters were printed, supposedly from members of the proletariat, condemning Streltsov as an example of the evils of western imperialism.

The Department of Soviet Football seems never to have warmed to Streltsov. An internal memo even criticised the timing of his wedding. "We found out before the important friendly against Romania that he had married," it read. "This shows how weak the educational work at Torpedo is." Communist Party archives apparently reveal a degree of distrust in the player, and Streltsov, having attracted the interest of clubs in France and Sweden following tours with Torpedo, was marked down as a possible defector. His file reads: "According to a verified source, Streltsov said to his friends in 1957 that he was always sorry to return to the USSR after trips abroad."

And then there is the matter of why Karakhanov asked Streltsov to his dacha. While it is certainly possible that he just liked the idea of having a famous footballer at his party, there are those who see something more sinister in his invitation. It is suspiciously convenient, they say, that he had returned to Russia only a few days earlier.

But all that is circumstantial. More concrete evidence of a plot comes from an interview his international coach gave shortly before his death. "When I tried to help Streltsov, I was told by police that Khrushchev himself had been informed about the case," Kachalin told the football historian, Axel Vartanyan. "I then dashed to a regional Communist Party committee headquarters and asked the first secretary to suspend the case until the end of the World Cup. I was told that nothing could be done and they pointed meaningfully upwards. I understood then that it was the end. I heard that Furtseva had it in for Streltsov, but who knows exactly what happened?"

The only certainty is that something did. "They went to the dacha," Ivanov said. "It's a dark story. Who raped whom, it's hard to say. I think if a girl goes to the suburbs for a night ... then a guy is waiting for her, as it were ... and she is the same... but I don't believe it was a set-up, no. Maybe it was the host of the dacha. I don't know who raped her, but she said it was Streltsov. So it's a dark story." Perhaps significantly, none of the players to whom I spoke were prepared, even now, to categorically defend their former team-mate. "I don't remember, but I did hear that he had refused to marry Furtseva's daughter," said Viktor Shustikov.

Most odd, though, was Simonyan's reaction. "What happened with Streltsov you cannot explain," he said. "It is a mysterious thing. He wrote to his mother saying he was taking the blame for someone else. It was the system that punished Streltsov. I don't know for sure if there was a rape on the part of Streltsov, but he and the girl slept together." He shrugged. "He was young, a bachelor, unmarried ..."

Actually, Streltsov had married just under a year before. Perhaps that is an indication that he didn't take his vows particularly seriously, or perhaps Simonyan's memory is just faulty. As he broke off, Simonyan reached into a drawer in his desk and took out a book. He opened it and removed a photograph and handed it to me without a word.

The print showed four images. Two were of a dark-haired young woman - Lebedeva. In one, she was lying back on what seemed to be a hospital bed, apparently asleep, her eyes ringed with bruises. The other two were of Streltsov. In the more striking, his face, captured in profile, was streaked from nose to cheekbone with three parallel scratches. Of course there is the possibility that the photographs were doctored or the injuries inflicted at a later date, but Soviet justice rarely required such damning evidence.

Streltsov died from throat cancer in 1990, and with him went any chance of establishing the truth. Lebedeva has vanished, although there was a sighting of her at Streltsov's grave in 1997, laying flowers the day after the annual ceremony on the anniversary of his death. Perhaps he was the glorious martyr that Russian football demands, but the case is far less clear-cut than some would have us believe.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2006/dec/14/sport.comment
 

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Discussion Starter #16
wanted to add that story myself today but you were quicker.

however, he was not the only player to be executed.

Tóth-Potya István was before him.

ok, it was after his player career, but still, he was coaching in Italy until the war began.

I mentioned it before in my magyarfoci history thread, in WWII he was member of the hungarian anti-fascist Résistance but the Gestapo caught him and the Nyilasok executed him later.
sad story indeed.

Btw we use to say poťagól (potyagól) to ridiculously cheap goals. Any chance it´s named after Tóth-Potya ?
 
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