The legend of the impenetrable gorilla standing at the goal and our football player who killed her with one blow of the ball was heard by many in childhood. It sounded something like this:
Some footballers are required to wear a black bandage on their legs. This bandage means that it is forbidden to hit with this foot, if he hits the ball with this foot, he can kill anyone who gets hit by this ball. There are not many such players in the world, and in our team there is such a player, his name is ... (in different ways, but most often Viktor Ponedelnik, Mikhail Butusov or Lev Yashin). Only he is not released on the field often. Once our team went to play in Africa. And there one team put up against them as a goalkeeper not a man, but a huge trained gorilla. She was so big that she closed almost all the gates, besides, she jumped so dexterously and took all the balls that no one could score a goal for her. Then our coach released a player with a black armband, he gave it to the goal and the ball killed the gorilla, and after that our team won.
Despite the fact that such events took place, there was a match in Africa, and a monkey at the gate and a Soviet footballer who accurately hit it with a ball, but in reality the story was somewhat different.
It happened in the early 1960s. After the end of the USSR Championship, the Rostov SKA team went to a series of friendly matches in Africa.
Nothing boded sensation. But after the meeting between the Rostovites and the Mali national team, the reporter of the French newspaper "Equip" transmitted to his editorial office amazing lines: "In the first half, the ball after a powerful blow from the center forward of the Soviet team Viktor Ponedelnik kills the monkey goalkeeper who defended the goal of the Mali national team in this match."
Here is what Viktor Ponedelnik, a direct participant in the events, tells about this in an article by the weekly Football for 2010:
“When we entered the field, we noticed that the goalkeeper of the Mali national team had a monkey on his shoulder, ” Viktor Ponedelnik recalls that amazing match. - We exchanged jokes: this is probably an amulet, now their representative will appear and take the animal. But no - I see that the African goalkeeper puts the monkey down near the top corner of the goal, where the crosshair is, and attaches it to a special carnation by the chain. "
The game began with attacks from Rostovites. Here Monday deals a strong blow to the goal of the Africans, the ball flies straight into the crossbar, the monkey falls and lies motionless. The goalkeeper of the Mali national team grabs the unfortunate animal in his arms and runs away. Next - the entire team of hosts. In the stands - noise, shouts, local fans are outraged by the murder of their team mascot. Militant calls and threats against SKA footballers are heard. "Guys, urgently to the locker room!" - shouts the translator. When our players hurried off the field, bottles flew after them from the stands.
“As soon as we took refuge in the locker room, ” continues Viktor Vladimirovich, “the Soviet consul, the translator, and the representative of the home team gathered there. Something is being hotly discussed. Then they say: “The worst thing happened! If the monkey mascot does not wake up, the game ends. And we will need to think about how to get you out of here. " To be honest, we flinched.
Someone remembered how, while driving to the stadium, a local translator, showing us several huts in the jungle, added with a smile: "We have a tribe of cannibals living there." What if any of them are here in the stands ?!
Fortunately, twenty minutes later the consul, who returned after clarifying the situation, reports: everything is in order, the monkey has woken up, you can continue the game. We enter the field, the goalkeeper of the Mali national team again puts the macaque in place. The referee blows the whistle. I have always remembered the absolutely incredible for football installation of our coach Viktor Aleksandrovich Maslov: “Hit the goal! But it's quiet. "
Our footballers fulfilled the coach's order not to disturb the monkey in the most conscientious manner. After the resumption of the game, they did not hit the goal of the Mali national team at all, but only rolled the ball to each other.
Upon his return to Moscow, Viktor Ponedelnik was awaited at the airport by the angry Chairman of the USSR Football Federation Valentin Granatkin: “What happened in Africa? "Equip" wrote that you killed the monkey goalkeeper with the ball! I have already been summoned to the Central Committee for an explanation. " The footballers stand and chuckle softly.
“I then explained to Valentin Aleksandrovich that the Mali national team has a normal goalkeeper, and the monkey is a talisman. In the game, it was touched by the ball, but everything is in order with her - she is alive and well. It's just that Ekip, due to poor communication with Bamako, received the reporter's report with distortions. They messed up, gave erroneous information in the newspaper. Hence all this tragicomedy. Granatkin immediately cheered up: "Uf-f-f, a stone fell from the heart."
This is how football legends are born thanks to the "yellow" press and "broken phones".