At 37, Dmitri Loskov has seen more of Russia's top flight than any of his contemporaries – the FC Lokomotiv Moskva playmaker has featured in all 20 Russian seasons since the break-up of the former Soviet Union, 19 of them in the Premier-Liga.
That is quiet testimony to the former Russian international's immense consistency, though he told UEFA.com that his unique achievement did not mean that much to him. "
It's just nice to know that at least in one sense I am on a par with great players like Oleh Blokhin and Lev Yashin [both played in 19 Soviet Supreme League seasons]."
Initially a star at FC Rostselmash Rostov-na-Donu – now FC Rostov – Loskov first joined the Railway Boys in 1997 and won domestic titles in 2002 and 2004, as well as three Russian Cups. He moved on to FC Saturn Moskovskaya Oblast in 2007, yet returned to take his old Lokomotiv No10 shirt three years later.
Appearances in Lokomotiv's first two games this season took Loskov's record Premier-Liga tally to 424, while only two players can better his 117 goals in the competition. "If you try to play good football, the records will come," he said. "I doubt I'll catch Oleg Veretennikov [142 goals] but I might go second ahead of Dmitri Kirichenko ."
As for the changes he has witnessed over 20 campaigns, Loskov joked: "The biggest difference is that I'm much older. But the league is more interesting now. All the teams are well-drilled and there are no obvious favourites and outsiders. Football has become much more organised. The fans have really come on too – they prepare great banners for every match. It wasn't like that before."
Loskov's example continues to inspire generations of Loko players, with team-mate Dmitri Torbinski one of his biggest fans. "As a boy, I had two heroes, Yegor Titov and Loskov," said the 26-year-old. "Loskov is a good example for any player. He is a long-term captain, a great goalscorer and an assist specialist. The club's biggest successes are associated with him, but he's a very easy-going person. Loskov is 37, but he is still in perfect shape."
Maybe not quite perfect, Loskov said. "Of course I get tired, but I do all I can to keep fit despite my age." The question now is whether he will reach 21 seasons: his Lokomotiv contract is due to expire at the end of the current campaign, in summer 2012. "There's always a chance," he said. "I don't like to look into the future. The season has just started. I'll train, play and try to give our fans something to celebrate."
©UEFA.com 1998-2014. All rights reserved.