Former Soviet striker Ivanov dies after illness

Former Soviet striker Valentin Ivanov, one of the six joint top scorers at the 1962 World Cup finals in Chile, died following a long illness on Tuesday, the Russian FA said. He was 76.

The Moscow native played in two World Cups, scoring two goals in 1958 and four in 1962 when he shared top scorer status with, among others, Hungary's Florian Albert who died last week.

Ivanov, who would have been 77 in two weeks' time, helped the Soviet Union to their first major international title at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics where they beating Yugoslavia 1-0 in the final.

He was also a member of the team that won the first European Championships in 1960 and finished runners-up in 1964, losing to Spain in the final.

"He was suffering from Alzheimer's disease. He had been sick for a long time," Nikita Siminyan, Ivanov's team mate on the 1956 Olympic team, told reporters.

Viktor Ponedelnik, who scored the winning goal in the 1960 final in Paris, where the Soviets again beat Yugoslavia this time by 2-1 after extra-time, added:

"We played together on the national team for many years. He was more of what you now call a playmaker than a pure centre forward. You always had to be alert on the pitch because he always had some tricks up his sleeve."


Ivanov, who was awarded the UEFA Order of Merit, spent his entire playing career with Torpedo Moscow, winning two Soviet league titles in 1960 and 1965 and Soviet Cup in 1960. He is still the club's all-time leading scorer with 124 goals.

He also scored 26 goals in 60 appearances for the Soviet Union between 1955 and 1965, making him their third highest scorer behind Oleg Blokhin (39 goals) and Oleg Protasov (29).

He later coached Torpedo to the league title in 1976.

Ivanov was married to famous gymnast Lidiya Kalinina after they first met during the 1956 Melbourne Games, where she also won gold as part of the Soviet women's team. She repeated that feat at the Rome Olympics four years later.

Their son, Valentin Ivanov Jr, was a FIFA referee, officiating at the 2006 World Cup in Germany where he was heavily criticised for handing out four red cards in a second-round match between Portugal and Netherlands.

While Valentin junior never played in a World Cup, his father certainly left his mark on the tournament.

After scoring twice in 1958, he netted four goals in 1962 to finish joint top scorer with Garrincha and Vava of Brazil, Leonel Sanchez of Chile, Drazen Jerkovic of Yugoslavia and Albert of Hungary, whose funeral took place on Sunday, just two days before Valentin's own death.

The only one of the six players still alive is Sanchez.