One thing immediately strike about Igor Netto. In this current age of professionalism, with diving, gamesmanship et al, how would Netto’s famed act of sportsmanship in the 1962 World Cup be perceived.
Born on the 09th January 1930 in Moscow, the son of Estonian émigrés, as a child Netto appeared to spend much of his childhood playing football on the streets [similar to Bobby Charlton]. Playing for the ‘Youth Pioneers’, in his youth his abilities were noticed by Spartak Moscow when he was 19 years old and quickly signed.
He made his debut that season at half back. Whilst Netto was more than defensively capable he was also more attack minded and it wasn’t long before manager Abram Dangulov moved the young Russian into midfield, initially as a winger but by 1950 to make the best of his attacking and defensive attributes as a central midfielder. Netto would become one of the best and arguably one of the first box to box midfielders. That season also Netto win his first trophy with Spartak’s Cup victory over local rivals Dinamo.
The Helsinki 1952 Olympics marked the Soviet return to the international scene, though it would be 1954 before regular matches would be played and Netto would be named captain.
By then Spartak had won back to back league titles in 1952 and 1953 and again in the 1956 season, the end of which would see the Soviet team led by Netto take Gold at the Melbourne Olympics beating Yugoslavia in the final. History would repeat itself four years later in the final of the 1960 European Cup of Nations with Netto lifting the trophy in Paris. The 1958 World Cup had been a personal disappointment for Netto, injury limiting him to just one game but the season did bring a league and cup double.
The 1962 World Cup in Chile, and in their first two matches the Soviet team had beaten Yugoslavia and drawn 4-4 with Colombia. In their final group match, the referee gave the Soviets a goal that Netto insisted be chalked off for going through the side netting. The Soviets would go on to win the match before losing to the hosts in the quarter finals.
That season Spartak claimed another league title and a Cup win in 1963 but by now Netto’s career was drawing to a close with his retirement in 1966.
Igor Netto was perhaps the complete midfielder. Strong defensively, with an eye for the pass and the ability to dribble he had the football intelligence to bring all his abilities together. Igor Netto was also a gentleman.
GREATEST SQUAD – STARTING XI [4-4-1-1]
MURTAZ KHURTSILAVA ALBERT SHESTERNYOV
VOLODYMYR BEZSONOV ANATOLIY DEMYANENKO
VALERY VORONIN IGOR NETTO
IGOR CHISLENKO VALENTIN IVANOV
GREATEST SQUAD – RESERVES
GK: RINAT DASAEV
GK: YEVHEN RUDAKOV
LB: EVGENY LOVCHEV
RB: REVAZ DZODZUASHVILI
CB: ALEKSANDRE CHIVADZE
CB: ANATOLI BASHASHKIN
CDM: VLADIMIR MUNTYAN
CM: DAVID KIPIANI
AM: FYODOR CHERENKOV
AM: OLEKSANDR ZAVAROV
ST: NIKITA SIMONYAN
ST: VICTOR PONEDELNIK
Created by Alan Robins Images by Jorge Manuel Martins