Piotr Orlov, a writer and editor living in Brooklyn, was born in Leningrad. He is the former deputy editor of Victory Journal and a contributing editor at NPR Music. (June 2018)

Follow Piotr Orlov on Twitter: @raspberryjones.

NYR DAILY

World Cup 2018: A Russian Advance

Aleksandr Erokhin of Russia celebrating after his team won a penalty shoot-out against Spain to advance in the FIFA World Cup, Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow, Russia, July 1, 2018

The boys with whom I ran around the courtyard of our apartment building in central Leningrad were not vested in football. When hockey sticks appeared, they’d fight bitterly over which of the CSKA forward line they would impersonate, with Valeri Kharlamov the demigod most in-demand. The only Soviet football player who could compete for the imagination of little hooligans with such supreme beings from abroad as Pelé, Franz Beckenbauer, and my eccentric personal favorite, Gerd Muller, was not actually Russian but Ukrainian: Oleh Blokhin, the superlative Dynamo Kiev striker.