In 2004 FIFA was celebrating its centennial the organization decided to create a list of best living footballers. Brazil’s football legend Pele was entrusted with this task. Initially the ranking was supposed to be split in two, with 50 active and 50 retired players. Eventually the list was expanded to 125 people – it was just too hard to keep to the initial limit. Surprisingly, out of all the players in the list there is only one Russian. His name is Rinat Dasaev.
He was born Juny 13 in Astrakhan and was an athlete from his early childhood. His first passion was swimming. But following an operation on his arm, he made a switch to football. Dasaev is often compared to the protagonist of Lev Kassil’s novel The Goalkeeper of the Republic, Anton Kandidov. In the story, written in 1937, a boy who worked at the docks catching watermelons became a professional goalkeeper, moving to Moscow. Dasaev’s story is similar – from the banks of the Volga river, he stormed Russian football and eventually the top list of world’s greatest goalkeepers.