Nikita Simonyan

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Nikita Simonyan
Nikita Simonyan 2017.jpg
Simonyan in 2017
Personal information
Full name Nikita Pavlovich Simonyan
Date of birth (1926-10-12) 12 October 1926 (age 93)
Place of birth Armavir, Russian SFSR, USSR
Height 1.72 m (5 ft 7 12 in)
Playing position Forward
Youth career
Dynamo Sukhumi
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1946–1948 Krylya Sovetov Moscow 52 (9)
1949–1959 Spartak Moscow 233 (133)
National team
1954–1958 USSR 20 (10)
Teams managed
1960–1965 Spartak Moscow
1967–1972 Spartak Moscow
1973–1974 Ararat Yerevan
1977–1979 USSR
1980–1981 Chornomorets
1984–1985 Ararat Yerevan
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Nikita Pavlovich Simonyan (Armenian: Նիկիտա Մկրտիչ Սիմոնյան, born Mkrtych Pogosovich Simonyan, 12 October 1926) is a former Soviet football striker and coach of Armenian descent. He was born in Armavir. As of 2016 he is the Russian football functionary First Vice-President of the Russian Football Union. Simonyan was awarded the Honoured Master of Sports of the USSR title in 1954, the Honored Coach of Russia title in 1968, the Merited Coach of the USSR title in 1970 and the Commander of the Order "For Services to the Fatherland" award on 29 December 2011.[1] Simonyan is the top scorer in the history of the club Spartak Moscow at 160 goals.[2]

Club career[edit]

Simonyan was a player for FC Dinamo Sukhumi during his youth career. His first coach was Shota Lominadze. After sixteen years of living in Sokhumi, Simonyan moved to Moscow, where he was invited by Vladimir Gorokhov and Abram Dangulov to join the local club FC Krylya Sovetov Moscow, also known as the "Wings of the Soviets". Gorokhov became Simonyan's first coach in Moscow. For the first match of the Soviet Top League, Simonyan played in Sukhumi against FC Dinamo Minsk. When he arrived in the city, he found out that his house had been searched and his father was arrested. The arrest was organized by the Georgian authorities to put pressure on Simonyan in order to lure him into FC Dinamo Tbilisi. This provocation did not work and Simonyan continued to play for Krylya Sovetov Moscow, where he spent three years.

After Krylya Sovetov Moscow came in last place at the 1948 Soviet Top League, the club was disbanded. Dangulov moved to FC Spartak Moscow and became the new coach, while the players were assigned to various Moscow clubs. Simonyan was to be transferred to FC Torpedo Moscow. In addition to receiving an invitation to play for Torpedo, however, Simonyan had also received an invitation to play for Spartak Moscow. Torpedo Moscow personally invited Simonyan through automobile ZIS director Ivan Likhachev. Simonyan, however, had a stronger desire to play for Spartak Moscow and signed with them in 1949.

In his first year, Spartak Moscow came in third place at the 1949 Soviet Top League. Simonyan had already become the Soviet Top League Top Goalscorer, however, with a total of 26 goals. This was the most goals ever scored in the League. The next year, Spartak came in fifth place at the 1950 Soviet Top League. Simonyan had once again become the Top Goalscorer, this time with a total of 34 goals scored. Simonyan broke his own record of most goals scored in the Soviet Top League. This record would stand until 35 years later, when Oleg Protasov scored 35 goals at the 1985 Soviet Top League. No one else has ever scored more goals in a single Soviet Top League than Simonyan. That same year, Spartak won the Soviet Cup for the first time.

Simonyan and Spartak finally achieved victory in the 1952 Soviet Top League. Simonyan scored five goals that season. This was the fourth time Spartak had won the Top League and the first time in thirteen years. Spartak won the Top League again the following year at the 1953 Soviet Top League. Simonyan also became the Soviet Top League Top Goalscorer for a third and final time with a total of 14 goals. Spartak won the 1956 Soviet Top League three years later. Simonyan scored 16 goals that season, just one short of the 1956 Top Goalscorer Vasily Buzunov. Simonyan won the Top League with Spartak for the last time as a player at the 1958 Soviet Top League. He scored nine goals throughout the season. Spartak also won the 1958 Soviet Cup for a second time. Simonyan left the club in 1959. He made 233 appearances and scored 133 goals for Spartak throughout his career, a record that has not been surpassed.

International career[edit]

Simonyan joined the Soviet Union national football team in 1954. He competed with the Soviet team at the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne. The team defeated Germany, Indonesia, Bulgaria and finally Yugoslavia to win the gold medal in football.

Simonyan was a member of the Soviet football team at the 1958 FIFA World Cup, its first World Cup. Because Team Captain Igor Netto was unable to play due to injury for most of the World Cup, Simonyan was named Captain of the USSR national football team in his place. The team was placed in Group 4, considered by the experts to be the toughest of the 1958 World Cup. The Union's games against England and Brazil were the most attended in the group stage. Simonyan scored a goal against England and was an important asset, as the Soviet team would have been defeated without it. The Soviet Union lost to the Pelé-led Brazil team in the final group game. The USSR came in second place, which qualified them for the knockout stage. They were defeated by Sweden. Simonyan played his last match on 19 June 1958. Out of 20 internationals for the Soviet Union national football team, he managed to score 10 goals.[3]

Managerial career[edit]

After retiring from football as a player, Simonyan became a manager. He became the manager and head coach of Spartak Moscow in 1960. Under his leadership, Spartak came in seventh place at the 1960 Soviet Top League and in third place at the 1961 Soviet Top League. Simonyan led Spartak to victory in the Top League for the first time as a manager and coach at the 1962 Soviet Top League. The following year, Simonyan and Spartak won the 1963 Soviet Cup and became finalists at the 1963 Soviet Top League. The team came in eighth place at the Top League in 1964 and 1965. After Simonyan and Spartak won the 1965 Soviet Cup, Simonyan stopped managing the club that year. He soon started managing Spartak again in 1967. Spartak made it to the Top League finals again in 1968 but did not win. The club won the 1969 Soviet Top League, their second Top League title with Simonyan as head coach and manager. Simonyan and Spartak won the 1971 Soviet Cup. Simonyan stopped managing Spartak for good in 1972. He had been head coach for a record 12 years.

Simonyan, an Armenian himself, began managing and coaching Armenian club FC Ararat Yerevan in 1973. He led the club to victory at 1973 Soviet Top League. Ararat Yerevan won the 1973 Soviet Cup as well that year. Under Simonyan, the club won its first ever Soviet titles. Simonyan stopped leading the club in 1974. He came back to Ararat Yerevan in 1984 and stopped managing for good in 1985. Between coaching and managing on Spartak and Ararat, Simonyan lead the combined clubs to first place three times, second place twice and third place twice in the Soviet Top League, making him the fifth most successful Top League manager and coach of all time. He also managed the USSR national football team and Chornomorets Odessa.

Administrative career[edit]

At the opening of the Fisht Stadium in 2017

Simonyan later worked in senior positions at the Football Federation of the Soviet Union, Sports Committee of the USSR and the Russian Football Union. On 24 November 2009, Simonyan was appointed acting president of the Russian Football Union following the resignation of Vitaly Mutko. Simonyan was in office until 3 February 2010. At a special conference of the Russian Football Union, Sergei Fursenko was chosen as the new president on 3 February.

Simonyan was in attendance for the UEFA Euro 2012 match between Russia and Armenia in Yerevan, which ended in a draw. On 25 March 2011, the day before the match, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan awarded Nikita Simonyan with the "Medal of Honor." At the award ceremony, Simonyan said:

I am honored to receive this esteemed award. You know, I'm one hundred percent Armenian. My parents, being Armenians Ardvina, once escaped from the genocide. My father was a great patriot. For me it was a great honor to lead the national team in 1973, "Ararat." And what did these guys win the title and the cup for me, as a coach, was a holiday. You can not pass, as it responded to the people. Indeed, it was a great team. So I'm a generation, and of course, all our people just grateful and worship.[4]

After Sergei Fursenko resigned on 25 June 2012, Simonyan was appointed acting president of the Russian Football Union for a second time. Simonyan left office on 3 September 2012, when Nikolai Tolstykh was elected president of the Russian Football Union.

Simonyan, along with fellow Spartak veteran Alexander Mirzoyan, sent well wishes to Yura Movsisyan in connection with his becoming a Spartak player. Simonyan wrote to Movsisyan, “Dear Yura, I hope that you win more titles at Spartak than I. I wish you success!” Movsisyan replied: “It will be difficult to exceed Simonyan’s achievements—[both] as a player and a coach. Thanks very much for such valuable gift. I know of Simonyan and Mirzoyan as the greatest players, and I am proud to be an Armenian just like them. I have not seen them play, but I know that they have done a lot for Spartak. I am not even close to them [in terms of accomplishments]. [But] I certainly do have plans. I want to score goals and achieve wins. [And] when something goes successfully, I will enter into history at that time.”[5] On 19 February 2013, Simonyan attended the grand opening of the new Spartak arena. He reminisced that if he were 20 years younger, he would be happy to still play for the club.[6]


Simonyan on a 2009 stamp of Abkhazia



Spartak Moscow


Spartak Moscow

Ararat Yerevan


Soviet Union



  1. ^ Симонян награжден орденом "За заслуги перед Отечеством" (in Russian). Retrieved 21 January 2013.
  2. ^ Игроки ФК Спартак Москва за всю историю. Матчасть Спартака. (in Russian). Retrieved 21 January 2013.
  3. ^ Matthias Arnhold (31 May 2012). "Nikita Pavlovich Simonyan – Goals in International Matches". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. Retrieved 7 June 2012.
  4. ^ Никита Симонян награжден армянским Орденом почета (in Russian). Retrieved 21 January 2013.
  5. ^ Յուրա Մովսիսյանի պատասխանը Նիկիտա Սիմոնյանին (in Armenian). Retrieved 30 January 2013.
  6. ^ Նիկիտա Սիմոնյան. Հաճույքով դուրս կգայի "Սպարտակի" նոր ստադիոնի խաղադաշտ, եթե 20 տարի երիտասարդ լինեի (in Armenian). Retrieved 19 February 2013.

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