Yashin was born in Moscow to a family of industrial workers. When he was 12, World War II forced him to work in a factory to support the war effort. However his health at the age of 18 (after he suffered a nervous breakdown) meant he was unable to work.This, he was sent to work in a military factory in Moscow. After being spotted playing for the factory team he was invited to join the Dynamo Moscow youth team.
Yashin’s debut for Dynamo came in 1950 in a friendly match. It was not the debut he would have hoped for, as he conceded a soft goal scored straight from a clearance by the opposing keeper. That year he played in only two league games, and did not appear in a senior match again until 1953. But he remained determined, and stayed at Dynamo in the reserves waiting for another opportunity. Yashin also played goalie for the Dynamo ice hockey team during those early years of trying to break into the senior squad. He managed to win a USSR ice hockey cup in 1953 and was third in the USSR ice hockey championship as goalkeeper.
He spent his entire professional football career with Dynamo Moscow, from 1950 to 1970, winning the USSR football championship five times and the Soviet Cupthree times.Yashin's club teammate, rival and mentor was Alexei "Tiger" Khomich, the keeper of the Soviet national team, who had become famous for his role in Dynamo Moscow’s British tour. He also internally rivaled goalkeeper Valter Sanaya, who left the club in 1953.
In 1954, Yashin was called up to the Soviet national team, and would go on to gather 78 caps.With the national team he won the 1956 Summer Olympics as well as the first European championship, the 1960 European Nations' Cup.He also played in three World Cups, in 1958, 1962 and 1966.Yashin is credited with four clean sheets out of the 12 games he played in the World Cup finals.
The 1958 World Cup, played in Sweden, put Yashin on the map for his performances, with the Soviet Union advancing to the quarter-finals.In a group stage match against the eventual Cup winners Brazil, the Soviet team lost 2–0.
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