It was written to him to become a legend. An incredibly gifted guy who could stand on a par with Vladislav Tretyak and Dominik Hasek. A dizzying career start, a takeoff similar to Gagarin’s … And then a terrible fall into the abyss.
What after Vladislav?
In February 1984, the USSR national team won the Olympic hockey tournament in Sarajevo. Updated team Victor Tikhonov rehabilitated for defeat by American students at the Lake Placid Games. In the key match, the USSR national team beat the Czechoslovakian team with a score of 2: 0. The goalkeeper of the Soviet national team, Vladislav Tretyak, was impeccable.
Sarajev’s gold medal became the third in Tretyak’s career. The 32-year-old goalkeeper was ready to continue his career if the head coach of CSKA and the USSR national team, Viktor Tikhonov, would allow him to spend more time with his family, and not at the training camp.
But the stern Tikhonov, for whom nothing was more important in life than hockey, refused to indulge the Tretyak. And then the goalkeeper announced his retirement.
Tretiak remained the main goalkeeper of the national team and CSKA for 16 years. Therefore, the news of his departure seemed to many to be a real “end of the world”. “Without Tretyak, both the national team and the army team will fail”, – experts said. CSKA were not afraid of failures, on the contrary, they wished them – the team’s leadership in the USSR championship was painfully overwhelming.
But the national team – a completely different matter. The real pride of the country, its business card, each defeat of which was perceived painfully. Who will replace the Tretyak?
At the very time when the legendary goalkeeper was playing out his last season, his long-term partner in the national team and CSKA Boris Mikhailov worked as the head coach of the Leningrad SKA. The team was at the bottom of the championship standings, and one of the reasons was the extremely unreliable game of goalkeepers. And then Mikhailov made a “knight’s move” – entrusted a place at the gate to a 17-year-old junior Evgeny Belosheikin.
Zhenya’s father was an athlete himself, played for the double of the football “Zenith”, so it is not surprising that his son began to play sports early. He tried different sports, but ended up focusing on hockey.
Mikhailov recalled that Belosheikin’s talent manifested itself early, but along with him flaws were also noticeable – he did not perform some tasks in training, sometimes he was late for classes. But the famous striker thought that this boyishness would go away with time.
On October 14, 1983, 17-year-old goalkeeper Evgeny Belosheikin took a place at the SKA goal in an away match against Dynamo Moscow. The meeting ended with a score of 2: 2, and the debutant was praised by experts.
A star is born
Having spent 24 games for SKA in his first season in adult hockey, Belosheikin received an invitation to the capital – at CSKA.
He was barely 18, and he was traveling to Moscow in the status of “Tretyak’s heir”. Boris Mikhailov did not consider such an assessment to be excessive. “Zhenya proved with his game that he could be the first number. He was really already called the new Tretiak. Everyone hoped that it was Belosheikin who would take his place. He had everything for this “, – quoted Mikhailov Sport24.
In his first season for CSKA, Belosheikin played 13 matches, did not spoil the weather and for the first time in his career became the champion of the USSR.
In the 1985/86 season, Evgeny finally established himself as the main goalkeeper of CSKA and in December 1985, at the age of 19, made his debut at the Izvestia prize as the goalkeeper of the USSR national team.
1986 was a fabulous year for him: a victory at the World Youth Championship, where he was recognized as the best goalkeeper, and then a triumph at the adult World Championship in Moscow. Experienced veterans did not hesitate to say: “The national team wins thanks to Belosheikin.”
At that moment it seemed that the “Tretyak’s legacy” was in good hands and the national team found a new main goalkeeper for years to come.
Injury before flying to the Olympics
When did Eugene’s fall begin? Those who knew him have many different versions. But there is no doubt that one of the key moments was the misfortune that happened to him in early 1988.
The USSR national team was preparing for the 1988 Olympics in Calgary, where it was considered the main favorite. Belosheikin was supposed to become one of the heroes of the Games, but at the last training session before flying to Canada, he was seriously injured.
The training was almost over, and the striker Valery Kamensky, who remained on the ice, was practicing shootouts with Belosheikin. Awkward movement – and the goalkeeper crumpled in pain. Conclusion of doctors – will not be able to play at the Olympics.
He remained in the national team’s application, and Belosheikin is present in the lists of Olympic champions-1988. But the fact of the matter is that only in the “lists”. For him, this state of affairs was unbearable.
The goalkeeper’s craving for alcohol was noticed even in SKA, despite his young age. But there was hope that the guy, seeing the opening prospects, would take up his mind.
Alas … Viktor Tikhonov was considered a dictator, ruthless to human weaknesses, but the stern mentor fiddled with Belosheikin for a long time. He also forgave him the story when Yevgeny and his teammate, who invited the girls to have a drink, turned out to be victims of cloning girls. They also hushed up the case when a drunken Belosheikin, stopped on the highway, climbed with his fists on a traffic police officer.
Way to the bottom
Tikhonov forgave him a lot, trying to keep his talent. They even sewed a “torpedo” into Eugene, but he cut it out on his own, getting drunk again.
“I went out for a star, not for mediocrity”, – Belosheikin’s wife announced and left him.
And from CSKA, after making sure that the goalkeeper could not cope with his demons, Eugene was expelled after the 1988/89 season.
In Leningrad, they were ready to accept their star that fell from heaven. But in SKA, Belosheikin played only one bright match, and then he did not look like himself. He was capricious, demanded special conditions and, it seems, ceased to objectively assess the surrounding reality.
In spite of everything, in the 1991 NHL draft he was chosen by the Edmonton Oilers. It seems that overseas experts chose the former Belosheikin, not quite understanding what state he was in. Or they believed that in Canada the goalkeeper would be able to take up his mind and restart his career.
But in the end, only six months in the farm club and a quiet return to Russia in the 1990s, where no one cared about the drunken star.
“I drove myself into a coffin and nailed myself with its lid.”
Although no, Belosheikin was given another chance. Boris Mikhailov, who again headed SKA, invited the goalkeeper. He came to the base, got a uniform and … left, announcing that the salary was too low.
And then Mikhailov said words that became prophetic: “Belosheikin drove himself into the coffin and nailed himself with its lid.”
His life began to resemble the fate of the hockey player Gurin, whom he played in the film “Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears” Alexander Fatyushin: Belosheikin walked around the wine-glasses, where there were always well-wishers ready to pour a hundred grams for who he once was.
Eugene tried to return to normal life, got a job, but nowhere he stayed for a long time.
At some point, it seemed that he still came out of the dive. The former goalkeeper met a woman, they began a relationship, Belosheikin treated the children of his beloved as his own. To make money, Eugene began to engage in a private cab.
When it became known that he took up his mind, many people from the hockey world wanted to help Belosheikin return to the game that made him famous. Let it be no longer as a player, but in some other role.
And then everything collapsed: he started drinking again, his beloved, not wanting to endure all this, left.
The narcologist, to whom Belosheikin was once brought, threw up his hands, saying that irreversible changes began in him.
Once, on rare days free from drunken intoxication, Yevgeny said to his mother longingly: “I’m tired of living.”
On November 18, 1999, in a small room in a dormitory, the Olympic champion, world champion and three-time USSR champion Yevgeny Belosheikin drew a line under his life. He was only 33 years old.
In the fall of 2019, goalkeeper medals appeared at one of the online auctions. Contrary to rumors, he did not drink them. The awards were kept by one official, after whose death the heirs decided to earn on unnecessary sports medals. Fortunately, the lot was redeemed by the relatives of Evgeny Belosheikin.