The name Pavel ‘The Pog’ Pogrebnyak will resonate with fans of Fulham and Reading – the Russian striker played for both between 2011 and 2015. But what’s he up to these days?
How many times has an unknown striker come into the Premier League, scored a bunch of goals in his first few games and then drop right off? A fair few, and Pogrebnyak falls into that category.
A Moscow-native, ‘The Pog’ began his career with the local Spartak. He broke into the first-team in the early 2000’s as a sprightly, powerful centre-forward and spent three seasons at the club, mostly out on-loan in Russian Football National League, but has his breakthrough with Siberian side Tomsk in 2006.
A prolific season with Tomsk landed him a move to Russian champions Zenit St. Petersburg in 2007, where he spent a further two seasons in fine goal-scoring form.
A move to Stuttgart followed, where Pogrebnyak spent three season playing nearly 100 games, and scoring 21 goals.
His third season saw him score just once in 14 Bundesliga games, and he was sold to Fulham on the January deadline day on a short-term contract.
No player has reached five Premier League goals quicker than ‘The Pog’ – he scored on his debut, in his second game and netted a perfect hat-trick against Wolves in his third.
An instant hit at Craven Cottage, the Russian scored six in 12 games in the second-half of the season and to the displeasure of fans at the time, he failed to reach a new deal with Fulham and left the club at the end of the season.
He was keen to remain in England, and Reading’s Brian McDermott signed him on a free.
In the Royals relegation season, Pogrebnyak failed to live up to the hype of his early appearances in the Premier League, scoring five goal as Reading finished 19th.
Unexpectedly he chose to stay in Berkshire and play in the Championship – he scored 13 goals in his first season in the second tier, but only five in the next. He returned to Russia August 2015, signing for Dynamo Moscow.
England had chewed ‘The Pog’ up and spat him back out. He never found his goal-scoring touch again – midway through his third season at Dynamo, he’d only scored one goal for the club, and was released after he was spotted at a Serie A game the day he was supposed to have a match for Dynamo.
He joined Russian Premier League side Tosno in February 2018 and helped the side to an unprecedented Russian Cup victory and scored three in six games for the club.
He was released at the end of the season though and today, aged 36, is on the book with another Russian top-flight side in FC Ural.
In his second season with the club, he’s still very much a prominent figure there seven league appearances so far.
A cult-hero during his time in England, his demise and apparent off-the-pitch attitude towards the game in his later career is sad to read.
But he’ll always be remembered by those who saw him play in England.