Roman Pavlyuchenko is arguably the most reputable player in the national team among the fans regardless of club they support. Instrumental in the team’s Euro 2008 success he is now in reserve, but if something goes wrong he will be first to help.
Full name: Roman Anatolievich Pavlyuchenko
Club: Lokomotiv Moscow
Caps for Russia: 47
Goals for Russia: 20
His career would have gone otherwise if the Stavropol region born player were some ten years older.In Russia, Pavlyuchenko played in two of the country’s big clubs, Rotor Volgograd and Spartak Moscow. The problem was that both outfits were in deep decline at the time.
He joined Rotor in 2000 when the club was on the brink of bankruptcy.The young target man was soon noticed by Spartak Moscow scouts, the most decorated and popular club in Russia, which by that time possessed nine out of 11 Russian crowns. He moved to Spartak in 2003 and soon won the Russian Cup. Sad to say, the club and Pavlyuchenko haven’t won a trophy since then.
However, Roman has nothing to be criticized for. During his stay at Spartak, Pavlyuchenko was the club's most prolific forward twice becoming Russia’s best goal scorer. His inspiring play together with his loyalty to the club's emblem, earned him much respect and appreciation from the Red-and-White Fans. Even more respect he earned when refused to move to Zenit St Petersburg – one of Spartak’s biggest rivals.
Pavlyuchenko’s international career was far more successful. In 2003, he was first called into the Russian national team and since 2005 has been consistently earning caps for Sbornaya.
He got in the spotlight after scoring both Russia’s goals in a crucial Euro 2008 qualification match against England in front of a sell-out Moscow crowd. This game together with Pavel Pogrebnyak’s injury earned him a place in Guus Hiddink's 23-man squad for Euro 2008. And he met the Dutchman’s expectations. He scored three times in 5 games, made two assists, was once named man of the match and was later included in the 23-man Team of the Tournament. But that time there was no more popular footballer in Russia, except for Andrey Arshavin.
He would join Tottenham Hotspur later that year and in the next three years earn himself a good reputation in the English Premier League. Despite being sidelined for most part of his stay in London, he always seized the chance to score goals playing less than 30 minutes per game. Coach Harry Redknapp’s reluctance to put Pavlyuchenko regularly in the squad ultimately made the player move back to Russia in 2012.
With Spartak Moscow being not ready to pay the asking price of €10 million for the 30-year-old, Pavlyuchenko preferred Lokomotiv Moscow – a serene port in terms of off-pitch affairs, and thus not spoiling his relations with Spartak fans. He scored twice for the Railway Men before being injured, which could have cost him Euro 2012. He recovered quickly, however, and was called into the Euro 2012 squad.
It’s highly unlikely Pavlyuchenko will get more playing time in Poland and Ukraine, but his experience is more than needed at such tournaments. Once called the ‘Sleeping Giant’ by Guus Hiddink, Roman can sit 89 minutes on the bench, and then come out on the pitch and score a winner.
Aleksey Kiselev-Romanov, RT
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