Mingazov: Turkmenistan's No. 1 dangerman
Turkmenistan playmaker wants to lead his country to the Asian Cup Finals like his father in 2004
If there is one footballer from Turkmenistan who Singapore have to play close attention to in tonight's Asian Cup Group E qualifier at the Jalan Besar Stadium, it must be their playmaker Ruslan Mingazov.
The 25-year-old is a man on a mission as he revealed an interesting fact to The New Paper yesterday - his father Kamil was 36 when he became part of the only Turkmenistan side to have qualified for the Asian Cup in 2004.
With a laugh, Ruslan, who has 18 caps and four goals including the equaliser in their historic 1-1 draw with Iran in 2015, said: "I have also created history for myself and my country, but my father always says that I will never be like him until I play in the Asian Cup.
"I feel like I have to stop this talking. To do that, we have to win our upcoming games, including the next two against Singapore.
"Our fans have waited a long time since 2004 and I feel we are ready to qualify again."
Good-natured ribbing aside, Kamil must be proud of what Ruslan has accomplished at a relatively young age.
The 1.75m-tall attacker is one of just a handful of Asians outside the Japanese and Korean contingents to ply their trade and thrive in Europe.
It has been a meteoric rise since he was introduced to football by his father at the age of six.
He was just 16 when he was signed by FC Ashgabat, helping his local club win their only league titles back-to-back before being picked up by Latvian giants Skonto Riga in 2009.
Ruslan proved that he wasn't out of his depth in Europe as his Midas touch continued with Latvian Higher League glory the following year.
He was even named the best player of the league in 2013, the same year in which he also scored in the Europa League.
Czech First League club Baumit Jablonec were the next to notice his ability to unlock defences with either foot as well as his knack for scoring headers despite his average stature.
That served as a stepping stone before Slavia Prague came calling.
Once again, he added more silverware to his cabinet by scoring three times in 16 appearances to help his team win the league and join the Champions League qualification pool.
Slavia drew 2-2 with Belarus' Bate Borisov and progressed to the play-off round on the away- goals rule before losing 2-0 to Cyprus' APOEL Nicosia over two legs last month.
"Just listening to the Champions League theme song and walking out on a European football night, you know it's big," said Ruslan.
"For sure, there is good football in Asia too, in countries like Japan, China and some of the Arabic nations but, in Europe, it is more physically demanding.
"And the feeling of winning the league and seeing the entire city celebrate is just unbelievable. I would like to go as far as I can in my football career in Europe and experience that again."
Ruslan is an all-rounded footballer who takes care of business on and off the pitch - during his stint with Skonto, he completed a business management degree at the Baltic International Academy.
"It was not easy to juggle both, training in the day and going for evening classes," he said.
"Football is my first love, but I recognised that a degree is also important.
"With discipline and good time management, I can do well in both, so I went ahead and did it."