10 reasons why Fulham’s Pavel Pogrebnyak is primed for cult-hero status
A few January loan deals have come good of late – Ryo Myaichi at Bolton, Royston Drenthe at Everton and Sid the Squirrel at QPR. There is however one loan signing that has quickly earned an especially warm place in OTP’s heart. His name? Pavel Pogrebnyak – he of five goals in his first three games fame.
We know that the Fulham forward has wreaked havoc on spell checkers and a series of Premier League defences, but is there anything else of interest about the Russian international? An examination of the Russian’s credentials, footwear and cheekbones point to an affirmative yes. Here are 10 reasons why big Pav is quietly primed for Premier League cult-hero status.
1. Flamboyant footwear
In recent years, we have sadly seen a significant decline in the exuberant colours displayed on Premier League players’ football boots. Thankfully Pavel has resurrected the dwindling club of wilful leather abuse with his electric lime and retina-dislocating orange boots. Perhaps Pav has a lucrative tie in with Tic Tacs. Whatever the case, his footwear is magnificent and due an individual float in the next Notting Hill carnival.
2. Russia’s answer to Grant Holt
Both 6-footers, dominant in the air and built like protein-glugging tanks, we think Holt and Pogrebnyak are separated at birth and possibly the result of procreation between Wonder Woman and a rhinoceros. Holt wears the ‘traditional English centre-forward’ uniform with ease. We reckon Pav needs a measuring up for the same accolade. If OTP had their way, we would apply a bit of Tipp-ex to Pav’s family tree and pair him with Holt for England at Euro 2012.
3. Fan cuddler
After scoring against Stoke, Pogrebnyak endeared himself to the cottagers by running into the crowd to offer cuddles aplenty. In a time when multimillionaire stars seem untouchable, it’s great see players giving fans an old fashioned affectionate squeeze. Of course the ref spoilt it by showing the multiple bromances a yellow card. The free-loving Russian was rightfully perplexed, saying after the game: “I didn’t know you couldn’t give hugs to fans in England.”
4. Cultured nickname
We all like a nickname in football, although the English are not especially inventive at attributing them – Steven Gerrard gets the boring ‘Stevie G’ tag and Lampard is unimaginatively labelled ‘Lamps’ or ‘Fat Frank.’ Well at least Pav comes with an intriguing nickname – ‘The Cellar’. We have no idea why. Some might say it points to devilish activities in a bondage dungeon, whilst we would like to think Pav is well-known for his superb wine collection.
5. He thinks the Premier League is full of hard-nuts
After playing a few games, Pogrebnyak thinks he has the measure of English top-tier football. The Russian reported to his homeland: “The ball flew back and forth through the air. It became clear that this was the English Premier League.” These comments came after playing Stoke. Say no more. In addition he said that the Premier League had “the strongest players in the world.” We’ll take that. La Liga may dominate us for skill, but who would you rather have backing you up in a dark alley, Rory Delap or Gerard Pique? Case closed.
6. A training triumph
Pogrebnyak has got fantasy football pulses racing after scoring 5 goals in 3 games, but he made his mark on Martin Jol within a few minutes of donning a Fulham bib. In his very first training match session, he bagged a hat-trick within the space of ten minutes. Jol giddily later confirmed that Pav had something special ‘from the first day he was with us.’ Bobby who?
7. European sharpshooter
We should probably mention Pav’s on-field merits. Despite a dry spell in front of goal for Stuttgart before Christmas, he had a fine scoring record in his three years at Zenit St Petersburg, collecting 22 goals in 58 appearances. His most sparkling form was reserved for the 2007-08 Uefa Cup where he finished up top scorer of the competition with 10 goals. He also scored in Zenit’s 2-1 Super Cup victory over Manchester United, melting one passed Edwin van der Sar from all of 30cm.
8. Rocky nemesis lookalike
As OTP first mentioned in mid-February, our man Pavel has an uncanny likeness to boxing baddy Ivan Drago. Anything that reminds us of Rocky IV instantly gains a foothold in our affections. Pavel’s chiseled cheekbones and short blond locks take us right back to that sweaty slice of montage utopia.
9. Laughs in the face of Sam Allardyce
Back in 2009, the then Blackburn manager Sam Allardyce was desperate to bring Pavel to the Lancashire club. Big Sam even flew out to Russia to see him play for Zenit. It’s fair to say that the striker didn’t react too positively to the offer of hooking up with the rotund coach. “I could only laugh at it.” chortled Pavel. “Yes, I dream of playing in England – but I’m not interested in Blackburn who are struggling against relegation.” Thankfully the Premier League came calling again with a less laughable manager.
10. He’s a very good boy
After having a somewhat fractious relationship with his last star striker, Bobby Zamora, Martin Jol can be forgiven for getting someone in with a few more manners. “He is a good boy,” said Jol. “That is exactly the information I had on him from two Dutch coaches who had worked with him, Guus Hiddink and Dick Advocaat.” Whether they also revealed any information on Pavel’s skill-level is completely academic. First and foremost Pavel is a “good boy” whom Jol can happily take home to his parents.