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Name: Pavel Nekhaychik
Club: FC BATE Borisov
Debut: 18 May 2007 v FC Darida Zhdanovichi
Date of birth: 15/07/88
BATE sprung a surprise in the 2008/09 season by qualifying for the UEFA Champions League group stage. Though Viktor Goncharenko's side finished bottom of their section, they left a lasting impression and have since gone from strength to strength domestically and in this season's UEFA Europa League. The club's upward curve has been especially mirrored by the rise of Nekhaychik.
Minsk-born Nekhaychik has made his way through the BATE ranks to become a mainstay of the first team. He first caught the eye in the reserve side, scoring 23 goals before making his senior debut as a late substitute in the 4-1 defeat of Darida Zhdanovichi in Borisov. It was 2008 that proved the making of this 22-year-old, though.
A scorer in BATE's UEFA Champions League second qualifying round victory against RSC Anderlecht, he also found the net on the biggest stage of all – away to FC Zenit St Petersburg in the competition proper.
At the same stage as his Anderlecht feat, Nekhaychik struck a hat-trick in this season's edition of Europe's premier club competition – against FH Hafnarfjördur – only for his team to be eliminated in the next phase by FC København. BATE bounced back strongly, with the Belarusian international subsequently featuring in five of his side's UEFA Europa League group stage matches, helping them book a round of 32 tie against Paris Saint-Germain FC.
He also scored decisive goals in Belarus's UEFA European Under-21 Championship qualifying round games against Scotland and Azerbaijan, helping them to a triumphant play-off meeting with Italy. Such an eye for goal, allied with great pace and a fearsome shot, has got tongues wagging.
RSC Anderlecht 1-2 FC BATE Borisov
30/07/08, UEFA Champions League second qualifying round
Nekhaychik came on with the score goalless in this first leg and, although his side soon fell behind, was still able to deliver a match-winning display. Fouled for the penalty which earned BATE an equaliser, he then added a decisive second, chesting the ball down before firing into the top corner.
I don't like people constantly saying I'm doing something wrong. For me, it is better when people say: 'Everything is fine, Pavel, you just have to improve here and here.' I'm not the only one who thinks this way. I know players who can lose confidence when they are criticised too much."
On being encouraged to improve
"The U21 finals are this summer. I can switch clubs, but if something goes wrong there's a risk I will be left without first-team football for half a year. In this situation I would go to Denmark in bad shape and that could ruin everything. Alternatively, I could stay at home with BATE, where I have a regular starting place. Then I can approach the finals in the best condition possible and maybe earn an interesting offer afterwards."
On the next phase of his career
Pavel has a leader's spirit. Off the pitch he may be reserved, but on it he changes. He gives 100% and always tries to win. In the games against Scotland and Azerbaijan, Pavel saved us practically single-handedly. When the other guys were having problems he assumed the leader's role. They look up to him."
Georgi Kondratyev, Belarus U21 coach
"I've known him for a long time. I first noticed him in training when I was in charge of the reserves. We had about 40 players and I singled out five or six, with 'Pashka' first on the list. He was very slender and his shirt hung off him, but I could see his intelligence. He had some good ideas and showed wisdom, but not everyone shared my faith in him.
He did not succeed straight away, but I knew he would blossom. It says a lot when a winger scores 15 goals in one season for the reserves and not one comes from a set piece. He's quick on to rebounds and understands when to run into the box and when to find space."
BATE coach Viktor Goncharenko
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