Born on 20th June 1954 in Kiev, in the Ukrainian SSR of the Soviet Union, Mykola Pavlov is a former central defender who tasted success as a player at Dnipro Dnipropetrvosk, before turning his hand to management.
In 1967, at the age of 13, Mykola started his playing career with Vostok Kyiv, signing a youth contract. He plyed his trade here for 5 years, before making a move at the age of 18, to Belarusian club Dynamo Brest (now known as FC Brest). He joined Brest at a time when they were in the old USSR 3rd division. A fairly mediocre club, they finished 6th, 11th, 14th and 10th in the four seasons he was there, with no sight of silverware.
In 1976, Pavlov made the move to Krylia Sovetov, a Russian team playing in the Soviet First League. In this particular season, there was a Spring and an Autumn league. Krylia finished 6th in the spring league and a disappointing 11th in the autumn league. The following season Pavlov was powerless to stop Krylia sliding down the league, as they finished 16th and were subsequently relegated. Krylias stay in the Soviet Second Division was to be a short one as they bounced back, winning the division and providing Pavlov with his first taste of success.
The promotion showcased Pavlovs talent and he returned to Belarus in 1979, when he was snapped up by Dinamo Minsk of the Soviet Top League. Pavlov helped his new side finish to mid table finishes in ’79, ’80 and ‘81. He made a total of 91 appearances for the club before heading back to his country of birth, Ukraine.
In 1982, he was signed be Chornomorets Odessa, where he would only spend one season. He made 24 appearances under manager Viktor Prokopenko, a manager who would cross Pavlovs path later in his career. In 83, at the age of 29, Pavlov transferred to what would be his final club, Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk. Little did he know, this would be his most successful time as a player.
Despite their image as a mediocre team, Dnipro started the season playing well, but not always getting the results their performances perhaps deserved. Dnipro attracted attention when towards the end of the first half of the season, they beat Soviet Top League title-holder, and current leaders Dynamo Minsk (Pavlovs former club), 2:1. Three straight victories followed, over Shakhtar, Chornomorets (leader of the championship at the time and another former club) and notably a 6-0 thrashing of Nistru. The team finished the first half of the season in 2nd place, 3 points behind current leaders, Zalgiris.
Their brilliant form in the first half of the season continued into the second half, Dnipro went top due to an away success against Torpedo Kutaisi 3:2, then going on to collect seven points in four games. After a four game winning streak was interrupted by Torpedo Moscow, they recoverd to win another 3 games in a row, it was at this point that Dnipro realised they were genuine contenders for the title. With 4 games left, they found themselves 2 points clear of 2nd placed Spartak Moscow. The gap remained until the final game of the season, when 1st would meet 2nd, Dnipro Vs Spartak. Pavlov and Dnipro prevailed and claimed the clubs first title and Pavlovs first major honour of his career.
Dnipro went on to play fellow Ukrainian club Shakhtar Donetsk in the ’83 super cup, where they would eventually lose 3-2 over two legs. In his last season as a player, he helped Dnipro finish 3rd in the league in 1984, earning a cap for the USSR national team in the process, before hanging up his boots and calling time on a 17 year playing career.
In 1988, he took up his first managerial position at Kolos Nikopol, before moving on to Tavriya Simferopol in 1989, Krystal Kherson in 1990 and then returning to Dnipro in 1991 the club he represented with distinction as a player. Pavlov inherited a very talented youth team when he took over. The youth team had just won their union championship, a reserve league, and the crop of players looked set to break into the first team squad,
In 1992, Ukraine’s national team played their first game as an independent nation against Hungary. Current manager of the national team, and former manager of Pavlov at Odessa, Viktor Prokopenko, asked Pavlov to be assistant manager to him, an offer Pavlov accepted on a dual basis, as he continued his duties at Dnipro. Many of Pavlov’s youngsters from Dnipro were called up during this time to the national team.
At club level, Pavlovs Dnipro were hoping to win their second league title as a club, and their youngsters were earning themselves a reputation. This group of talented players were given the nickname “Mykola Pavlov’s Kindergarten”. The race for the title in 1994 went down to the wire, with Pavlov’s kindergarten losing out to Dynamo Kyiv on goal difference. They also made it to the second round of the UEFA cup before getting knocked out by current German side, Eintricht Frankfurt.
In 1995, the managerial position at Dynamo Kyiv became available and Pavlov was duly appointed head coach at the capital club. He only spent one season there, but led Dynamo to the league title. In 1996, he moved to Tavriya where he spent a season before moving to Illichivets Mariupol in 1997.
He spent 7 seasons with Illichivets, taking them to the semi finals of the Ukrainian Cup in 2000 and to the quarter finals in 2005. In 2005, they also qualified for the UEFA cup for the first time in their history. They beat Lithuanian team Banants in the first qualifying round before losing out in the second to Austria Vienna. In his final season in charge, he once again steered Illichivets to the semi final of the Ukrainian cup, losing out to the competition runners up, Metalurg Zaporizhia.
He spent a season with Stal Alchevsk in 2006 before landing his current job at Vorskla Poltava. He led Vorskla as they picked up the Ukrainian Cup in the 08/09 season, beating his former club Dnipro in the final, 1-0. They qualified for the UEFA Europa league in 2009, losing out in the qualifying playoff to Benfica. They qualified again in the 2011/2012 season, going on their best run in Europe. Beating Glentoran from Northern Ireland in their first game, before taking the scalps of Sligo Rovers and Dinamo Bucharest to get through to the group stages for the first time in the clubs history. The experience gained in Europe stands Poltava in good stead as Pavlov brings through another group of youngsters, notably, recent Ukraine debutants Roman Bezus and Yevhen Selin.
Pavlov left Vorksla in 2012 taking the reigns at his former club Illichivets Mariupol. Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Illichivets have struggled financially and have been forced to relocate from their native Mariupol. At the end of the 2013/14 season they were relegated from the Ukrainian Premier League but Pavlov stayed loyal to the club through the difficult time.
Mykola Pavlov welcome to the Viktor Leonenko Hall of Fame
Mykola Pavlovs Varenyky Rating: