Having scored 100 goals in competitive domestic and international games by their mid-20s, FC BATE Borisov's Artyom Kontsevoi and Vitali Rodionov look well placed to become Belarussian record breakers before they retire.
Only 16 Belarussian players have managed to reach a century of goals, with 35-year-old FC Naftan Novopolotsk striker Valeri Stripeikis leading the way on 216 to date. FC Dinamo Brest's Roman Vasilyuk has 205 with the third most prolific scorer, the now-retired Valentin Belkevich, on 145 goals.
Kontsevoi brought up his century with a goal against FC Dnepr-Transmash Mogilev on 7 May. Born in Gomel, he never played for any of his local sides, but scored regularly for FC RUOR, BATE, FC Spartak Moskva, FC Chornomorets Odesa, FC MTZ-RIPO Minsk (now FC Partizan Minsk) and PFC Spartak Nalchik before rejoining BATE In the winter
"I took my first steps here as a pro with BATE," he said. "I was only 18 but the coaches put me in the starting lineup. In my first season, I formed a partnership with Vitali Kutuzov, who is now at AS Bari. I still remember those times with excitement; how we clinched Belarus title in such a dramatic way in 2002.
"We had a wonderful team in Borisov," added the 27-year-old, who won the last of his eight Belarus caps in 2008. "We youngsters didn't feel any discomfort playing alongside more experienced players. We defeated TSV 1860 München 5-0 on aggregate in the UEFA Intertoto Cup, then drew at home with Bologna FC. Good memories."
Kontsevoi has not given up hope of returning to one of Europe's bigger leagues, but hopes to increase his goal and title tally at BATE. "BATE have dominanted in Belarus for a long time and also done well in Europe," he said. "I still want to play at a higher level but I'd like to help BATE clinch another title first."
Kontsevoi took his career total to 101 with a goal in Saturday's Belarussian Cup final, while Rodionov scored twice in the 5-0 defeat of FC Torpedo Zhodino to move into three figures. Having played for Torpedo and FC Lokomotiv Vitebsk, he joined BATE in 2006, trying his luck in Germany with SC Freiburg in 2008/09.
At the age of 26 he is still pushing himself to get better, complaining after the final: "I scored twice but wasted several more chances. I need to improve. I believe I will hit peak form at some point in the future." If he does so at any point in the next nine or ten years, Stripeikis' record will start to look very vulnerable indeed.
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