Vladimir Mikhailovich Pilguy born 26th January 1948 in Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine is a retired goalkeeper, best known as the legendary Lev Yashins replacement at both club and international level. He is currently assistant manager at Torpedo Moscow, and has held various administrating football roles since hanging up his boots. As a youngster Pilguy began to learn his trade between the sticks of junior side Stroytel Dnipropetrovsk playing for the side from the age of 10 in to his teenage years. At 13 Pilguy moved to Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk and he would make his debut for Dnipro in 1969, as 21 year old, under the guidance of a manager in his first job, who would go on to achieve great things, namely; Valery Lobanovsky. In his debut season Pilguy would play 41 games as Dnipro won their regional division, the goalkeepers form attracted the attention of Lev Yashin and management at Dynamo Moscow. Pilguy would turn down the initial advances of the Moscow giants opting to try and help Dnipro win the end of season play offs to be held in Moscow. Dnipro failed to win the play offs and miss out on promotion to the Soviet First League that the ambitious Pilguy craved. Upon returning to Ukraine, Pilguy informed Lobanovsky that he would be leaving.
Dnipro were a side run by the powerful Yugmash factory, and Pilguys decision to leave the club was not taken well by the management. Upon returning to the city, Pilguy was arrested by armed soldiers who transferred him to the local KGB offices. Fortunately the ordeal was quickly resolved; Pilguys suitors Dynamo Moscow were able to call on friends in high places, and Brezhnev ordered the goalkeepers immediate release, with the transfer being officially completed before the start of the 1970 season.
Pilguy was signed as Yashins immediate understudy and ultimately his replacement and the veteran goalkeeper described the youngster as;
“Quick, clever, acrobatic, with instant reactions and good coordination, he has great promise. When the day came in my farewell match defending the colours of my hometown club, I knew when he came on in the second half that the posts were in good hands!”
It was during Yashins farewll game between Dynamo Moscow and a FIFA XI that Pilguy would become the number 1 coming on as a sub for Yashin, symbolically receiving Yashins gloves – a memento Pilguy keeps to this day. In his debut season Dynamo Moscow would finish 2nd in the Soviet High League, and would win the Soviet Cup, the first silverware of Pilguys career. The ‘keeper would continue to improve and made his debut for the USSR side in 1971, the year finished on a personal high, as Pilguy received his first nomination for Player of the Year.
His debut for the national side, set up an exciting 1972 for Pilguy with both the European Championship and Olympics taking place. He would represent his national side in both tournaments, finishing runner up in the Euros, before collecting a bronze medal at the Olympics. That year Pilguy would also see victory snatched away from him at the final hurdle at club level, his Dynamo Moscow side lost in the final of the UEFA Cup Winners Cup. Pilguy enjoyed arguably his personal best season in 1973 as he was named Soviet Goalkeeper of the Year, and finished 3rd in the Soviet Footballer of the Year award. Pilguy would miss the next two seasons due to surgery, returning in 1977, a season in which he again helped Dynamo to victory in the Soviet Cup, the last major honour of his career. The injury affected Pilguys international career as he was unable to fully establish himself as the true number one, and although he would go to collect a second bronze medal at the 1980 Olympics he only collected 12 caps over his career, a figure far too low for a goalkeeper of such undoubted quality.
By 1980 and after a decade at the club a change of management meant Pilguy was no longer undoubted number one for Dynamo Moscow, often rotating with other ‘keepers at the club. By 1981 it was deemed that Pilguy was now surplus to requirements and after 223 appearances for the club, Pilguy was released. It seemed Pilguy would slip into the abyss like many players of his era, however an unexpected offer from Kuban Krasnodor arrived and Pilguy would don his gloves once more playing 55 games for the club over two seasons, before finally calling a day on his career. In total Pilguy kept 122 clean sheets during his career and this qualifies him for entry into the Lev Yashin club, a club of former Soviet bloc goalkeepers who have kept more then 100 clean sheets during their careers.
After a few years away from the game Pilguy would move into administrative roles, becoming President of the USSR Football Veterans in 1987, followed by a year as President of his old club Dynamo Moscow in 1989. a two year hiatus would end when he was named Director of the Russian Football League. A spell at Torpedo-Luzhniki Moscow was his last before Pilguy turned to coaching. Starting with a role in the Russian national set up as goalkeeper coach, before progressing to become Assistant Manager at Torpedo Moscow, a role he continues to this day.
Vladimir Pilguy Welcome to the Viktor Leonenko Hall of Fame
Vladimir Pilguys Varenyky Rating: