During the Euro 2008, a resurgent Russian team under Guus Hiddink had an amazing run as they went on to reach the semi-finals. They defeated Greece, Sweden and Netherlands before losing out to the eventual champions Spain. Several players of that team caught the eye with their electric performances and one of them was a striker named Roman Pavlyuchenko. He scored 3 goals and was one of the best players of the tournament.
In September 2008, Pavlyuchenko signed for Tottenham Hotspur for a fee of £13.7 million from Spartak Moscow. Signing the then-26-year-old was not that exciting for the Spurs faithfuls, but it proved one of Spurs’ more notable ones. Unfortunately for Pavlyuchenko he arrived at a bad time for the club.
The team’s star strikers Robbie Keane and Dimitar Berbatov had left for Liverpool and Manchester United respectively. Manager Juande Ramos’ side were in the midst of a woeful start to the season not ideal for integrating a newcomer such as the Russian international.
The Russian scored his first goal for the club on 24 September 2008, in the 2–1 League Cup 3rd round win against Newcastle United and went on to score his first league goal in the 2–0 victory against Bolton Wanderers on 26 October 2008.
Ramos was sacked after recording just two points from eight Premier League matches to open 2008-09. Harry Redknapp replaced him and began what would prove a turbulent working relationship with the recently signed striker.
In the 2009–10 season, Pavlyuchenko was the fourth-choice striker for Tottenham, who scored 14 goals in his first season. However, Redknapp preferred Robbie Keane, Peter Crouch and Jermain Defoe over the Russian despite having a better goals per minute ratio than all of his fellow strike partners.
As for the supporters, they were calling for the player to be brought on they wanted to see a talented, intelligent footballer to get consistent opportunities that might have helped his abilities flourish. Whenever he scored, the ecstatic White Hart Lane crowd promptly delivered a stirring rendition of their “Super Pav” song.
Despite Pavlyuchenko ultimately never got enough opportunities to satisfy Redknapp’s standards, there was no denying the impact of some important runs of form on the club’s fortunes.
Pavlyuchenko would be a prominent figure in some of the big periods of Redknapp’s reign at White Hart Lane, a time that would included their incredible 2010-11 Champions League campaign. On 17 August, he scored a vital away goal against BSC Young Boys in the Champions League play-off round first leg. Tottenham were losing 3–0 until a Sébastien Bassong header pulled it back to 3–1 and Pavlyuchenko later made it 3–2. In the second leg, Spurs won 4–0 at home, meaning that they would progress into the Champions League group stages. Pavlyuchenko’s promising form in this tournament continued with two second-half penalty strikes against FC Twente in Tottenham’s second group match, followed by a decisive third goal as Spurs beat cup holders Inter Milan on Matchday 4.
The Russian’s Tottenham career up until this point had consisted of constantly being down the pecking order. In December of the 2011–12 season, the striker had been restricted to just 18 minutes of Premier League football, until he came on against Sunderland and went on to score the only goal of the game.
In early 2012, Tottenham unilaterally invoked an option to extend Pavlyuchenko’s contract until the end of next season. However, reports emerged that Pavlyuchenko had been involved in a training ground bust-up with Spurs coach Kevin Bond which led him to leave the club in the January transfer window after scoring 42 goals and cementing his legacy in the white part of north-London.