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EURO 1960 final goal hero Ponedelnik passes away

Viktor Ponedelnik, who scored the winning goal for the USSR in the first-ever EURO final in 1960, has died at the age of 83.

Viktor Ponedelnik
Viktor Ponedelnik AFP
EURO 1960 final highlights: USSR 2-1 Yugoslavia
EURO 1960 final highlights: USSR 2-1 Yugoslavia

With the final against Yugoslavia deadlocked at 1-1, Ponedelnik struck with a header seven minutes from the end of extra time in the Parc des Princes in Paris to decide the destiny of the inaugural EURO title. He had also been on the scoresheet with a goal in the 3-0 semi-final success against Czechoslovakia in Marseille.

Ponedelnik was the last surviving member of the team. "The final kicked off at 22:00 Moscow time on the Sunday, and by the end of extra time it was gone midnight – basically Monday," he recalled. "My surname [literally translating as 'Monday'] was a dream for headline writers!"

Viktor Ponedelnik (left) stands beside the statue in Rostov of him holding the Henri Delaunay trophy
Viktor Ponedelnik (left) stands beside the statue in Rostov of him holding the Henri Delaunay trophyFC Rostov press service

Born in 1937 in Rostov-on-Don, Ponedelnik played for the local clubs Rostselmash and SKA. A free-scoring forward, he earned 29 caps and scored 20 goals for the USSR national team.

Ponedelnik went on to play in another EURO final in 1964, when the USSR lost to Spain in Madrid, and ended his playing career in 1966.

Ponedelnik worked as the head coach of Rostselmash in 1968-69, before becoming a sports journalist. Since 2015, a statue of him holding the EURO’s Henri Delaunay trophy has stood at the Olimp-2 stadium in Rostov-on-Don.

EURO cult heroes: Viktor Ponedelnik, 1960