Vladimir Fedotov: Legend of Rivals

Vladimir Fedotov’s mural at the VEB Arena | Vitaly Leonov/RFN

Fedotov is a name synonymous with the war-time hero and CSKA goal-scoring machine, Grigoriy Fedotov. However, almost only one player has ever crossed the great Moscow divide to warm both the hearts and minds of both Spartak and CSKA – his son, Vladimir Fedetov.

When he passed away thousands of Red-Blues and Red-Whites came to see the great footballer and coach to his final journey. As well as his father Vladimir has now been devoted to with graffiti at the VEB Arena.

Youth Career

As the son of a footballing great,?his future had been pre-determined towards football by his father. Naturally, Grigoriy Fedotov brought his son to CSKA training from the age of four and enrolled him in FShM (the Football School of the Youths). When Vladimir was only 14, his legendary father passed away. Then, aged 17, the young but blossoming forward was accepted into Spartak Moscow.

A photo of a young Vladimir with his parents in a photo released from the family archive | Championat

In 1961, legendary footballer and manager Konstantin Beskov – who was Fedotov’s coach in FShM – invited him to his house to inform that he had taken over CSKA Moscow and Vladimir rejected Spartak offer and followed him in the Red-Blue side.

At the meeting, the 13-year-old daughter of Konstantin apparently fell in love with the then 17-year-old Vladimir. The love story of Lyubov Konstantinova Beskova and Vladimir Grigorevich Fedotov would be a good storyline for melodrama in the future and is likely exaggerated. A decade later they started to date and then got married.

Beskov started the rejuvenation of CSKA during this period. However, this eventually resulted in a conflict inside the club and in 1962 Konstantin was sacked. Vladimir Fedotov in his debut season showed a great performance. He took his father’s No. 9 and scored ten goals in just 12 matches. For the next 14 years, Vladimir was the starting forward of the Army Side.  To this day, Fedotov holds CSKA’s official league appearance record of 383.

Fedotov and his teammates early  in his career (eighth from the left, back row) | Championat

“Match of my Life”

In 1970, Valentin Nikolaev took over as the manager of CSKA. Two Moscow sides, Dinamo and CSKA contested for the title in this season, but crucially, a vengeful Konstantin Beskov was then Dinamo’s coach. Nikolaev had a slight masterstroke at the beginning of the season, moving Fedotov into a deeper?midfield position, allowing him to use his creative talents to full effect.

After the championship finished, the sides had equal amount of points. A golden match had was decided upon by the officials to determine the tiebreeaker.

After 120 minutes of the?golden match, the two were still in deadlock. In the replay on the very next day?(!) the Red-Blues found themselves trailing 1-3 with just 20 minutes remaining.

Fedotov has since recalled that he was “ready congratulate his opponents for their great play”, but after five minutes Fedotov won a penalty (which was converted) and scored himself to equalise the score. Nearing the end, a relatively easy shot was deflected into the net by Pilguy, Dinamo’s keeper. So-called as Pilguy’s bump decided who would become champions in an almost comical way, yet Fedotov’s quality shone through. The 1970 Championship was Fedotov’s lone title as a player, and for CSKA it was the first title since 1951 and last until 1991. Naturally, Fedotov holds this as the most important match of his career.

A Soviet International

Fedotov Jr, as well as his father, had not a successful career for the Soviet National Team. Although he was the best striker and top scorer in the Vyshaya Liga in 1964, he was not included in Nikolai Morozov’s squad for the 1966 Cup. The side finished fourth at the competition, reaching the semi-finals before losing to Franz Beckenbauer’s Germany 2-1 then Eusebio’s Portugal 2-1 in the third/fourth playoff.

He also missed out on selection for the 1970 World Cup in Mexico, debuting in the Sbornaya on October 28, 1970, after his CSKA Head Coach Nikolaev took over the National Team. From 1970-1974 he made 22 appearances and scored four goals for the USSR.

Fedotov training with the national team | Championat 

Family Derby

In 1975 legendary ice-hockey coach Anatoliy Tarasov took over as coach of the football team at CSKA. Fedotov started to assist him as playing coach and then as an assistant coach. In 1981, he was assigned as head coach at SKA Rostov-on-Don.

Vladimir Fedotov, his father-in-law Beskov and son Grigoriy Fedotov Jr. | Championat

The young coach led his side to the final of the USSR Cup in just a few months. The opponent of SKA was Spartak Moscow, headed by Fedotov’s father-in-law Beskov. Fedotov said that all his family except young son supported Beskov. However, 81,000 spectators in the Luzhniki stadium watched a sensational victory of Rostov’s side. Spartak missed a penalty and many scoring chances, but Sergey Andreev’s late winner decided the match.

After winning the trophy the Rostov side celebrated the victory for a long time and as a?result, the Red-Blues (like CSKA and current day SKA Khabarovsk, SKA Rostov-on-Don were also an army team and played in red & blue) were relegated from the Vyshaya Liga. For the next few?years, Fedotov worked in CSKA (as an assistant coach) and SKA Rostov.

Fedotov with his SKA team after the victorious 1981 USSR Cup Final | исторя мирового футбола

Crossing the Divide

In 1990, the Syrian businessman Ahl-Khalidi invited Fedotov to create a new team, Asmaral, on the base of Krasnaya Presnya, who played in the fourth tier of Soviet football. For two years the side was promoted twice and reached the First League in 1992.

However, due to the dissolution of the USSR, Asmaral was immediately promoted to the RPL. In 1992, Fedotov invited his father-in-law Beskov as head coach and in their first season, Asmaral finished seventh. Due to financial troubles of the owner the fairytale finished in 1993 when the side was relegated.

After Asmaral, Fedotov joined Bahraini side Ahl-Muharraq. He worked there for ten months, until the President of Bahraini FA disqualified the side because some fan threw an egg at him.

Over the next few years, Fedotov changed many clubs. He was offended that his native CSKA had not invited him. Unknown to Vladimir, his wife even called CSKA owner Evgeny Giner asking him to find a position for her husband.

Vladimir Fedotov during his time as Spartak boss | SovSport

In 2002, Spartak’s manager Oleg Romantsev invited Fedotov to the cross-city rivals as a coach. In 2006, Aleksandr Starkov was fired and Vladimir was appointed caretaker. The new manager switched Starkov’s defensive style of play to a more attacking one. Vladimir also gave playing time to youngsters and as a result, Spartak finished as runners-up. Fedun wanted Stanislav Cherchesov as head coach but due to popularity among the Red-White fans, he appointed Fedotov. The former CSKA striker and legend was so popular that some rich fans even bought land and built a house next to Beskov’s country house after Vladimir’s dismissal.

After a five-match winless run in the summer of 2007, Fedun fired Fedotov and finally got his man Cherchesov. After Spartak, Vladimir Fedotov worked for 18 months as the Sporting Director for FC Moscow. However, he was depressed due to the firing from Spartak and in March 2009 sadly passed away aged 66.

CSKA defender Vladimir Ponomarev has since fondly recalled the great man, but also claimed that his main problem is that he took all to his heart:

Even when he was a player he could not fall asleep after losses and he was always nervous before the match. Every match for him was a stress. They often stress problems with alcohol, but he didn’t drink… he just burnt himself out.


Author: Vitaly Leonov

Football fan. Former reporter and chief-editor of the Inform Agency PESKI.RU (www.peski.ru). I like travel and visit stadiums and attend matches in Europe. CSKA Moscow fan.

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