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Andrey Starostin
Andrey Starostin
Andrey Starostin during the CDKA – Spartak match, the Stalinets Stadium, 1940
Photo by Nikolay Volkov
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Andrey Starostin

Andrey Starostin

22 October 1906 - 24 October 1987

On May 30, 1940, a match between Spartak and CDKA took place at the Stalinets Stadium. More than 40 thousand spectators came to the game. Mikhail Dmitriev (Moscow) was the judge. The Red Sports newspaper photojournalist was armed with a primitive German camera with a simple lens and three glass photo plates. He managed to take a closeup photo of Spartak’s Andrey Starostin’s attack. The same camera with a glass plate photographed the first USSR Championship in 1936 with all the Starostin brothers.

In 1935, Nikolay Starostin became the founder of the Spartak * Football Club. Nikolay was one of the four famous footballer brothers. The club’s leadership struggled to come up with a name but at one of the meetings Nikolay saw Spartaco**, a book by Raffaello Giovagnoli, and immediately suggested naming the club after the freedom fighter. Then, Nikolay came up with the Spartak** logo, too.

*Moscow Sports Club founded in 1922 was Spartak’s ancestor.
**Spartaco and Spartak stand for Spartacus in Italian and Russian respectively.

Andrey Starostin started his career in Moscow’s football clubs as a midfielder and defender. All four Starostin brothers, Nikolay, Alexander, Andrey and Pyotr, played for Spartak. The people’s team started from sports circles at producers’ co-operative enterprises and became the top-level team we all know. The club was financed by ordinary people and not the government entities. Andrey played for Spartak from 1935 to 1942 (from 1937 to 1940 as team captain).

Andrey Starostin won prizes and titles at the Russian SFSR and the USSR championships multiple times (1931, 1935, 1936, 1937, 1938, 1939, 1940) as well as the Soviet Cup (1938, 1939).

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The Spartak Football Team (left to right): V. Semyonov, P. Kornilov, A. Akimov, V. Zhmelkov, and A. Starostin after winning the Soviet Cup, 1939
Photo by Nikolay Volkov

Repression Years

In 1942, all four Starostin brothers were repressed and sent to different GULAG camps. Nikolay, Alexander and Andrey were accused of «praising bourgeois sports». Pyotr was accused of anti-Soviet agitation. Andrey Starostin was sent to Norillag (currently the city of Norilsk).

Even in Norillag he never quit football, there he was head coach of the local Dynamo team from 1944 to 1953.

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Spartak without the Starostin Brothers, 1942
Photo by Nikolay Volkov

Andrey Starostin Outside the Football Field

After coming back from GULAG Andrey could no longer play due to his age but he could not live without sports. Football filled his soul. He worked as:

Head of the USSR national team (1960 – 1964, 1968 – 1970);
Secretary of the USSR Football Federation (1959 – 1961);
Vice-chairman of the USSR Football Federation (1961 – 1964);
Head of the football department of the All-Soviet Council for Trade Union Voluntary Sports Societies (1964 – 1967).

Till the day he died in 1987 he served as head of the sports game department of the Spartak central council (1969 – 1987), head of the Couch Council of the USSR Football Federation (1967 – 1987), and chairman of Moscow Football Federation (1971 – 1987).

The list of Andrey Starostin’s achievements in football goes on and on. He was part of the symbolic team of the USSR’s best football players of the last 50 years (1967) and was given the Badge of Honour (1937), the Order of Friendship of Peoples (1937), and the Order of the Red Banner of Labour (1985).

Andrey Starostin wrote four books: The Big Football (1957, 1959, 1964), A Story about Football (1973), Encounters on Football Orbit (1978, 1980), Football’s Standard-bearer (1988). There will be several reprints of these books.

Andrey Starostin (on the left) as the Head of the USSR National Team during UEFA Get callback
Andrey Starostin (on the left) as the Head of the USSR National Team during UEFA, 1960
Photo by Nikolay Volkov

UEFA 1960

In 1960 the USSR national team was at its peak. The team won the final match of the European championship held at the The Parc des Princes stadium in Paris on July 10, 1960. Under Andrey Starostin, the USSR national team beat the Yugoslav national team in the overtime. The score was 2:1.

After the first half, when the Yugoslavs started winning, Starostin addressed his team.

"Why are you so sad? You are great football players, great masters. Can't you see that you are stronger than them? Take off your chains, lift your heads up, believe in yourselves. That is all that is required of you. You will certainly win."

Lev Yashin was the goalkeeper back then. FIFA later named him the best goalkeeper of the twentieth century. He was a unique player; he got the Ballon d’Or award. The great team in this golden lineup became the only UEFA Cup winner in the history of the USSR.

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Andrey Starostin, Head of the USSR National Team, 1960
Photo by Nikolay Volkov
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