Igor the Eagle: Moscow zoo honors Russia’s star goalkeeper

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Moscow zoo has named a new-born eagle after Igor Akinfeev, the star goalkeeper who helped Russia beat Spain and advance to the World Cup quarter-finals, an official said on Thursday.

A newborn eaglet, named after the goalkeeper of the Russian national soccer team Igor Akinfeev following the World Cup Round of 16 match between Spain and Russia, is seen inside its enclosure during a demonstration at the Moscow Zoo, Russia July 5, 2018. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

This particular Igor Akinfeev is a steppe eagle, which in the wild ranges from eastern Europe to Mongolia.

World Cup mania has overtaken the host country after the surprise success of the national side which has reached the last eight despite being the lowest ranked team in the tournament.

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“We are proud of the achievements of our football team,” said Svetlana Akulova, the zoo’s general director. “Their victory over Spain has stirred the whole country and united the hearts of millions.”

Wild, late-night partying broke out in Moscow after Sunday’s 4-3 penalty shootout win, in which Akinfeev saved two penalties. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov compared the festivities with celebrations at the end of World War Two.

“Moscow zoo could not remain on the sidelines of such a magnificent event. Therefore we have decided to name our steppe eagle which hatched over a month ago in honor of Igor Akinfeev,” Akulova said.

Russia plays Croatia in the quarter final on Saturday in Sochi.

Writing by Tom Balmforth; editing by David Stamp

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