Pavlov began his playing career in 1972, playing for “Spartak Brest”, (later renamed “Bug Brest”, now FC Dynamo Brest) in the Belarusian SSR. The club played in the old Soviet Second League. After three years there he moved to Krylia Sovetov, a club in the Soviet Top League. Four seasons and three years later, in 1979 he moved back to Belarusian SSR to play for their best team in the Soviet Top League, Dynamo Minsk. Another 3 years later, in 1982 he was on the move once again, this time back to Ukraine to play in Odessa for Chernomorets Odessa. The following season he moved to Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk. His two seasons there were the most successful of his career. He became the USSR champion in 1983, and won the bronze medal the following year (1984).