Henrikh Mkhitaryan: "I am trying to reach the highest level in football"
Henrikh Mkhitaryan: "I am trying to reach the highest level in football"

Henrikh Mkhitaryan spoke to the FFA official site on the different stages of his football career, Armenian national team and his life in Manchester. We didn`t mention Armenia v Montenegro match as the interview was made before the game, during Armenian national team training camp.


- Henrikh, what was attracting you most in football when you were a kid?

My father was my inspiration and it was my dream to become a footballer like him.

-What are the best memories from your first football career years in FC Pyunik?

I was 7 years old when I started to train at FC Pyunik and I was very happy to join the professional team later. This was one of the first exciting steps in my early career.

-What was the moment when you realised that football can become the main activity of your life rather than a simple passion?

It was always a dream for me to become a professional footballer, and when the dream becomes true and you are on your way, it makes you feel incredibly happy. I could understand when I joined my first foreign team, Metalurgh Donetsk, that I could go further in my career and have a good career in football.

-How can you describe Armenian football at the time when you started and nowadays? What has changed?

Today the Armenian league is a bit weaker than during my times, the competitiveness was higher then than it is now.

-Have you ever experienced a moment when you could have left football? If yes, what helped you to overcome that decision and how did you manage that?

Sometimes you may have hard times during your career but you can never give up, sometimes you have thoughts that tell you to stop, it is a natural human feeling, but it doesnt have to push you towards quitting. You have to find the strength to overcome the bad thoughts in your mind.

- You have been at the center of attention since your childhood. What was your feeling when people would say that you will become a top footballer one day?

I was indeed the son of a famous footballer, but I didnt feel much pressure at a younger age. My family gave me the choice between dedicating myself to football or another profession and my decision was to become a footballer and not something else.

-Do you remember your first game and first goal for FC Pyunik?

I actually scored in my first ever appearance for FC Pyunik. It was against FC Shirak and I was very excited about it.

-You were only 17 years old when you started in the National team. What did you feel at that moment?

I was honestly so happy that I was on cloud nine. It was such a pleasure to get an invite from the National team! I really wanted to play for my country and I have worked hard to become an important player for the National team.

-Which is your favourite (most beautiful) goal(s) for the National Team and in your club career?

I have had many goals in my career, but I think many more are still to come. I would not wish to single out one particular goal, not at this stage yet, but I may answer this question at the end of my career and hopefully I will have many more goals to compare (smile)..

-You wore the jersey N22 in Pyunik FC, N11 in the youth National Team, N9 in the National A Team before switching to N18, how did it happen that you chose that number?

When I first joined FC Pyunik, 22 was the only number free… then in the youth team I had 18 as I liked it and I also switched to it in the National team later. I like that number but I am not supersticious at all.

-You moved to Ukraine in 2009 to play first for Metallurg Donetsk, then Shakhtar Donetsk. What are the main differences between Armenian and Ukrainian footballs.

The Ukrainian league was physically and technically harder to play because we had strong opponents like Dinamo Kiev, Dnipro and Metallist Kharkiv at that time. In Armenia I was already in a leading team so it was not as tough.

-With Shakhtar Donetsk you launched your participation in the Groupe stage of Champions League. What are the feelings when 2 years before that a player evolves in the Armenian league and then competes against the likes of Barcelona, Roma and Arsenal?

Playing in Armenia I would always watch UCL group stage games on TV and two years later I had the chance to play against the biggest clubs in the world with Shakhtar. With the time I felt more comfortable in the competition and now in Manchester it’s great because I play every time against Champions League level clubs.

-You have set a goalscoring record in the Ukrainian League with 25 goals, which is a fantastic result for a midfielder. What was the secret of your success?

The secret of my success is that I never stopped working hard and finally when I scored 25 goals, it was deserved not only for me but for the whole team, because we had a very strong group with Douglas Costa, Willian, Fernandinho and Dario Srna – the best ever team in Shakhtar’s history.

-In parallel, you would perform very well in the National Team with your teammates. What were the reasons for the National Team to perform so well in 2010-13?

We had a mix of experienced players and young talents and this combination brought the best performance. We also were lucky because it is hard to win against teams like Denmark and Slovakia. Of course we are a good National team and the readiness is always there.

-With your goal against Denmark (0:4) you equalised and afterwards broke the best goalscoring record in the National Team. In your childhood, would you ever think that would achieve this success?

As every player, I like scoring goals and I am very happy that I could break this record which actually used to belong to our National team’s new coach (laughing). It is not easy to score with the jersey of the National team because you always play against strong opponents, but I always give my best.

-You are the topscorer of Armenian national team and now your coach is the second topscorer in the history. How does it feel to work with Artur Petrosyan?

 -Artur Petrosyan is one of the best players in Armenian national team history, if not the best. He always supported me. I am impressed of his way of working. He knows football very well, he has big knowledge. I think, we can have a success together. He can give something new to our team

 -Against Italy you scored your 12th goal and then reached 19 in total. What is the number of goals you think you could achieve in the National Team until the end of your career?

I never think about an exact number, as it is first of all important to enjoy yourself when playing.

-Coming back to your club career. In 2013 you had a big transfer to Borussia Dortmund. Another step forward. How did you settle in the German Football? How would you distinguish German Football?

It was a little hard in the beginning, because of the different lifestyle compared to Ukraine and the language barrier. But after a first year in the country I could feel very comfortable and I am very proud of having played for Borussia Dortmund during my career, it was a fantastic experience.

-You had a very good start in the club and then the third years had been extremely successful. How did it happen to get to that level of performance?

My first year in the club was very good for a newcomer, but the second year didn’t work so well for the whole team… and I do not believe that it is something that one footballer can solve by himself. My third year was phenomenal, because the new coach gave me freedom and opportunity to be closer to the opponent’s area which and that meant that in total for the season I had many goals and assists.

-Can you describe German fans in 3 words?

Crazy – amazing – unbelievable!

-Lets speak about the foreign coaches that contributed into your career. Can you describe them and what they gave to you?

I am thankful to

 Nikolay Kostov, as I learned a lot tactically at Metalurgh Donetsk and he could take the best out of me.

 Mircea Lucescu, as he gave me the opportunity to join the best club in Ukraine and to play in the Champions League. He built the strongest ever team with Brazilians and this was a great learning experience.

     Jurgen Klopp, he trusted me and gave the chance to play in his team, he made me one of his key men and he worked a lot on my psychological part.

     Thomas Tuchel, he opened all the abilities in me, he gave me full confidence and things were flowing naturally, it was a feeling like I was “flying in the air” so free I was in my movements…

     Regarding Jose Mourinho, I hope I can learn a lot from him as well. He is a coach with a fantastic record.

- And from the Armenian coaches, which one of them has made the biggest influence on your career from your youth years until the now?

Armen Gulbudagyants taught me many things in life, I still keep contact with him. I loved the way he worked with young players and the way he was trying to show the modern side of football. He would always tell me “you need to think and act very quickly, because you need an higher gear to play in Europe”.

-What were factors that you made you decide to move to Manchester? English football, the club, the coach, the salary?

I had three very successful years in Germany with Borussia Dortmund but I had the opportunity to move to one of the biggest clubs in the highest profile league in the world. I was always taught by my father to challenge myself and to continue to evolve in my career and I saw the move to Manchester United as an opportunity to grow as a player and as a person. It was definitely not the salary that made me join Manchester United, I went for football reasons. For the history of the club, the league, the fans and the coach because he is one of the best in the world.

-Have you had any difficulties to settle in Englanddo you like life there?

There is not much sun… but I didn’t move to Manchester to go to the beach (smiles). It has been relatively simple to adapt to the city because people are so friendly to me. It’s a dynamic city and one I like to live in… I am only missing playing time, but it will come for sure. I keep working hard and this will pay off.  

-What does English football mean for you? Did you imagine the English supporter as you see him now?

 They simply live football, they love their players and always support the team, regardless if they win or loose. This makes you more hungry to play for them. The English PL is the best league in the world and it gives me something different, a new challenge. I think I can become stronger by playing there.

-Are there any psychological barriers to overcome when you haven’t established yet your self in the starting line-up? Are there any disappointments?

- There are no disappointments, just challenges; I never stop or give up when I encounter obstacles in my way, I just continue going until I reach my career objectives. Today I don’t have enough playing time, so I have to do all my best so the coaching staff gives me the chance to play. I know I can succeed at Manchester United and I want to show everyone that I deserve to be a key player in this team, in this league.

-It is difficult for a person to be known in England, tabloids, journalists, newspapers are very strong. How do you handle this and whats your reaction to all the news and rumours that are spread?

I have not had any problems with the newspapers or with journalists in England. As a matter of fact, I think that the media has treated me very well in the UK and they have supported me a lot even when I was not playing.

-What do you feel when world recognizes Armenia thanks to you?

I always do the outmost so my country is known around the World, so that people know where it is situated geographically and what is the history.

-Coming back to the Armenian National Team, after Roman Berezovski stopped his career you became Captain of the NT. What does it change for a footballer to enter onto the pitch in a Captain’s armband?

It makes you more responsible as you have to lead the team and push it further during the game. I am there for every single player, we are a team and we have to walk together.

-Some of the fans are interested to know why you do not realise the free kicks or the penalties as you do in the National Team?

In a club level, first you have to integrate into the team and then get the chance in training to practice them . I used to realise free kicks and corners in Borussia Dortmund, as I think I am quite good at that, as for the penalties, there would always be dedicated players for that. I never retreat from taking a penalty, you just respect the discipline and order in the team.

-Do you find it realistic to still fight for winning a qualification to the WC in this group?

We always try to do our best. It is understandable that we are not a big team like France to always be in the Euros, but we try to reach that level, because if this happens one day it will be simply amazing.

-Can you mention a partner with whom you would understand each without words?

I like when players understand each other from a single look,. I had this with Aubameyang in Dortmund, as well as with the brazilians in Shakhtar.

-You always rose up during your career. What is in football the objective that you haven’t reached yet but which you wish to achieve?

I don’t like to speak about what I can or would like to achieve. I would rather prefer to accomplish things and then speak out. I am trying to reach the highest level in football, highest trophies as this would be remembered after your career.

-And in general, what does a footballer need in his career to succeed: talent, character, or something else?

You need all together, only having talent is not enough, you have to combine it with hard work and strong character.

-What are the main difference that you see in becoming a footballer on the European and Armenian ways? What can you wish to our young players?

To believe in what they do, to have dreams and work hard for them. They have to build their road to success. 


 FFA Press office

VBET Armenian Premier League

N Teams GP Pts
1. Ararat-Armenia 15 40
2. FC Pyunik 15 33
3. FC Ararat 15 27
4. Sevan 13 20
5. Noah 13 18
6. Urartu 14 18
7. FC Alashkert 12 16
8. Noravank 14 9
9. Van 15 9
10. CSKA 14 6