A key player for the Soviet Union in the 1950s, Nikita Simonyan had the honour of not only donning the captain’s armband in his country’s first-ever FIFA World Cup™ game, but also scoring the side’s first goal at the global finals. Despite making their World Cup debut, the Russians went into Sweden 1958 as the reigning Men’s Olympic Football Tournament winners.
With usual captain Igor Netto only making one appearance in Sweden, it was Simonyan who stepped in to skipper USSR for most of the tournament. The former Spartak Moscow forward, who celebrated his 91st birthday last week, recalls his country’s journey to the knockout stages, as well as facing a 17-year-old Brazilian whizz kid named Pele.
The above footage is part of FIFA’s archive of videos highlighting significant stories in FIFA World Cup history