"I was sure I would come back to Borisov one day," Mikhail Gordeychuk told UEFA.com after a spell away from FC BATE Borisov helped him fulfill his considerable promise.
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Six goals in eight league games represent a fine haul for midfielder-turned-winger Mikhail Gordeychuk, who is proving his class after returning for a second spell at FC BATE Borisov.
Now 24, Gordeychuk looked to be destined for great things when – after spells at FC Shakhtar Karagandy and FC Volna Pinsk – he scored for BATE in a 2-2 UEFA Europa League round of 32 draw at home against Paris Saint-Germain FC in February 2011. However, that was to be a false dawn for the former Under-21 international, who subsequently lost his first-team place and spent two seasons with FC Belshina Bobruisk before returning to the BATE fold this winter.
Gordeychuk is in no doubt as to why things did not work out first time around with ten-time champions BATE. "I wasn't really doing what I should have been," he told UEFA.com. "You could say I paid too much attention to things that had nothing to do with football. Did I ever feel that I should never have left BATE? Today you can say what you want, but I was sure I would be coming back to Borisov one day."
As it was, 12 goals in 53 games in all competitions for Belshina prompted BATE coach Aleksandr Yermakovich to bring Gordeychuk back on board, though the head of the club's board, Anatoli Kapski, had some reservations. "The only question was about Misha's mentality," Kapski said. "Gordeychuk always had great talent, but now football is his main priority. The spell in Belshina did him good and he is constantly proving he has changed in many ways."
That change of attitude prompted Gordeychuk to receive his first senior international call-up last year while he was still at Belshina, making his debut in a 0-0 draw against Albania in Antalya, Turkey, on 15 November. "Coach [Georgi Kondratiev] came to me right before kick-off and told me he was going to let me play for one half," Gordeychuk recalled. "I was bit overwhelmed, but I soon calmed down. I could even have scored but missed from a great position."
Kondratiev knows Gordeychuk well as a member of the Belarus squad he led to the semi-finals 2011 UEFA European Under-21 Championship in Denmark, and is aware of his flexibility. "I do not care where I play." Gordeychuk admitted. "For the U21s, Kondratiev once fielded me in defence against Italy. Before that, I played in the middle of the park. At Belshina, I was either an out-and-out striker or second forward."
Now he is hoping to get more international appearances under his belt, having linked up well with Belarus striker Sergei Krivets at BATE – though Krivets smelled a rat when he saw his new team-mate talking to his old Belshina cohorts ahead of their first meeting of the season. "Maybe they were plotting something?" he smiled as he reflected on a game in which Gordeychuk scored twice. "But seriously, he was great."
Such simple, uncomplicated praise can only do Gordeychuk good. He may have lost his way at BATE first time round, but he is making up for lost time now.