A Look at Spartak’s Special Relationship with Russian Cosmonautics
From everybody at Spartak Moscow, we’d like to heartily greet you on the 60th anniversary of the first manned space flight! To commemorate the occasion, we’d like to tell you a bit about Spartak’s special kinship with Russian astronauts, and the space mission itself.
In 2014, cosmonaut Sergey Ryazansky presented us with a red-white Spartak pennant that had been in space with him. “Spartak is the best club in the universe!”, said Ryazansky with jubilation beaming across his face. We may not have global superstars like Messi and Ronaldo, but the museums of Barcelona and Real Madrid don’t have space souvenirs embellishing them either. Ryazansky, a travelled astronaut with many months of space experience under his belt has been a Spartak fan since his schooldays, and saw us through our golden era under Oleg Romantsev.
Sergey isn’t our only point of contact with space though, in fact, our relationship with the final frontier is decades old. For example, Spartak legend Georgi Yartsev met Yuri Gagarin himself in 1961, when he was just a 13 year old boy. Could you imagine what the experience of meeting the first man in space would’ve been like to a young boy?
The following year, the entire Spartak would meet Gagarin, and this is evidenced by the coaching journal of our iconic manager Nikita Simonyan. “August 4 1962: Meeting with Gagarin”, says a page of the journal, which is on display on our museum. Gagarin would meet our team again in the same year, while at the International Festival of Youth in Helsinki. We went on to win both the tournament, and the Soviet championship that year.
At the opening of our museum, Olympic football champion Anatoly Isaev described his lucky rendezvous with Gagarin at a restaurant in Moscow with great pride; another testament to the stature Gagarin holds in Russia. Boris Yegorov, the first doctor-cosmonaut was also a passionate Spartak fan, and was spotted at our games on a number of occasions.
In March 2015, we also hung up a colourful banner dedicated to the 50th anniversary of the first spacewalk, which was conducted by Alexei Leonov. Leonov had attended our Champions League tie with Chelsea some five years prior, and a photograph of him with Nikita Simonyan is available in our museum.
Finally, perhaps the most surprising crossover in history: The great-granddaugter of Spartak founder Nikolay Starostin, Natalya Koroleva is also the great-granddaugter of Sergei Korolev, who is the father of Russian cosmonautics. The fates of two prominent people in the 20th century were intertwined, and the two families became related. Hence, the odysseys of space are literally in our bloodline!