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Lynko loving every minute with Isloch

Isloch are playing every game as if it were their last at the UEFA Regions' Cup, with No9 Sergei Lynko's "love football, play football" motto proving to be an inspiring one in Group B.

Sergei Lynko's view from a bridge in Venice
Sergei Lynko's view from a bridge in Venice ©Sportsfile

Having worn a replica of Ronaldo's shirt as a boy, when the Brazilian was in his pomp at FC Internazionale Milano, Isloch's No9 Sergei Lynko had little idea that he too would be playing in Italy one day.

The UEFA Regions' Cup has afforded the 23-year-old auto-parts salesman that opportunity and Isloch are eager to make their adventure last as long as possible. "It wasn't easy for everyone to get time off work to come here," he told UEFA.com. "Some had to take holiday, others negotiated to work off these days later, but all of us knew that playing in a European championship – even if it is just one for amateurs - was not an opportunity that comes along every day."

A 1-0 win against Olimp Moscow on matchday two has left the Belarusian side with an outside chance of reaching Saturday's final, but as they prepare to take on Yugoiztochen Region, they are well aware that every game could be their last. "It's probably the last time we will all be together," said team-mate Anton Savostyonok. Lynko added: "In the same season we won the amateur cup to get here, the team won promotion to the second division – a league which features professional players."

As a result, this Isloch selection has been in limbo, carrying on playing together as amateurs while the club fields a different team for their regular fixtures. "We have spent three years together," Lynko explained. "We could have taken different players to Italy, but we decided that the ones who won the place in the final tournament were the ones who deserved to play."

The dynamic Lynko once attended the FC Torpedo-SKA Minsk academy and came close to making it as a professional before he was drafted into the army. On returning, he was picked up by Isloch, but professional contracts remain hard to come by. "Plenty of gifted players play in the amateur game because there is not so much money in our league," said Savostyonok. Lynko added: "Players have to earn their daily bread. I play because I love football. I don't earn money this way – I've given my life to it, though, and I enjoy it."

The reward for his sacrifices – like the other players here in Veneto – is this opportunity to play like professionals, and the UEFA Regions' Cup broadens horizons too. "It's always a positive experience to travel, see new places, play against different sides and test yourself on a new level," said Savostyonok. "I have been amazed at the strength of football development here. Everywhere were go on the bus we see pitches and children playing. This country lives football and that's probably why Italy get such good results."

Whether they go home after Thursday's game or after Saturday's showpiece, Isloch have seen much to inspire them, though nothing that will alter Lynko's life philosophy. "Love football, play football," he said.