Despite scoring crucial goals in Champions League wins over Young Boys and Inter Milan, Roman Pavlyuchenko will be remembered as a source of frustration for Tottenham fans writes Alasdair Hooper.
Tottenham’s striking department has been pretty much set for a number of years now – he’s called Harry Kane.
But there was a time, not that long ago, when there was real debate over who should be leading the line for Spurs.
The club had several options to call upon in the years before Kane’s emergence and one of the most frustrating was Roman Pavlyuchenko.
Are we calling the Russian striker an undoubted flop? Definitely not.
With Pavlyuchenko it was very much a mixed bag, there were low points, as well as times when he hardly saw any game time. But he also gave Tottenham fans some incredibly fond memories during his time at the club.
The Russian arrived at Spurs off the back of his fine performance at Euro 2008, joining from Spartak Moscow in a £13.7million deal.
This, however, was Juande Ramos’ Spurs (a manager who’s probably worthy of his own ‘whatever happened to’ article) and the club went on to experience their worst ever start to a league campaign.
On October 25 Ramos was sacked the day before Tottenham’s match with Bolton, with Harry Redknapp being announced as his immediate replacement. Pavlyuchenko scored his first league goal in that game as Tottenham also recorded their first league win.
What followed was a relationship between player and manager that wasn’t always rosy, despite Pavlyuchenko scoring 14 goals in his first year in England.
He soon became fourth-choice striker in his second season behind the likes of Robbie Keane, Jermain Defoe and Peter Crouch. As a result, game time was much more limited.
But what Pavlyuchenko will be remembered fondly for was his impact in Spurs’ memorable Champions League run in 2010-11.
In the first leg of the play-off, with Tottenham losing 3-0 against Young Boys, Sebastien Bassong’s header pulled it back to 3-1 before a crucial goal from Pavlyuchenko made it 3-2. Spurs won the second leg 4-0 and qualified for the group stage.
There was also that incredible night against reigning champions Inter Milan where Spurs won 3-1. Gareth Bale undoubtedly stole the show, but it was Pavlyuchenko who scored that all important third goal.
Another highlight was his two brilliant goals in the final game of the season against Birmingham City. Those goals ensured Tottenham finished fifth in the league, as well as confirming Birmingham’s relegation.
But it wasn’t long before ‘Super Pav’ was off to pastures new. In January 2012 his time at Spurs came to an end, having scored 42 goals in 113 appearances, and he joined Lokomotiv Moscow.
After three and a half seasons with Lokomotiv – which were hardly prolific with just 15 goals in all competitions – he moved onto fellow Russian Premier League side Kuban Krasnodar.
After just a year there, appearing 10 times and scoring twice, he was departing again following Kuban’s relegation – this time to fellow Premier League side FC Ural Yekaterinburg in June 2016. Once again it proved to be a less than productive time with just four goals in 23 appearances.
In May 2017 he joined third tier side FC Ararat Moscow, before his contract was ended by mutual consent in November that year, and in 2018 he found himself playing amateur level football.
In August that year – just a few years after he was scoring goals in the Champions League – the man who had starred at Euro 2008 was playing for fourth tier Znamya Noginsk, and this is the club you can still find the forward at today.
But while it may be easy to see this as a downward spiral, there is a positive ending to the tale.
After a brief return to Ararat for three months in 2019 he came back to play for Znamya who were subsequently promoted to the Russian Professional Football League for the 2020-21 season.
That meant, at the age of 38, Pavlyuchenko was back playing professional level football. It might not be the same as scoring a crucial goal against Inter Milan, but a win is still a win.
You can follow Alasdair on Twitter @adjhooper1992