Henrikh Mkhitaryan has had a long, winding road to get to Manchester United.
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The Armenian playmaker, 27, shone at Borussia Dortmund over the past few seasons and was crowned the Bundesliga player of the season for 2015-16 before joining Jose Mourinho’s revlution at Old Trafford this summer.
Life has been up and down to start with for Mkhitaryan in Manchester but as he details in this terrific first-person piece with The Players’ Tribune, it has been much worse.
Below is a snippet from the story as Mkhitaryan details the moment his family moved back to Armenia from France, where his father had been a striker for second division side Valence.
Powerful and very moving.
When I was six years old, my parents told me that we were moving back home to Armenia. I didn’t really understand what was happening. My father had stopped playing football, and he was at home all the time.
I didn’t know it, but my father had a brain tumor. Everything happened very fast. Within a year, he was gone. Because I was so young, I didn’t completely understand the concept of death.
I remember seeing my mother and older sister always crying, and I would ask them, “Where is my father?” No one could explain what was going on.
Day by day, they started to tell to me what had happened.
I remember my mother saying, “Henrikh, he will never be with us.”
And I thought, Never? Never is such a long time when you are seven years old.
We had a lot of videotapes of him playing in France, and I would watch them very often to remember him. Two, three times a week I would watch his matches, and it would give me a lot of happiness, especially when the camera showed him when he was celebrating a goal or hugging his teammates.
On those videotapes, my father lived on.
I think we can all agree that his father, Hamlet Mkhitaryan, will be very proud of all his son has achieved thus far in his career.
And following Henrik’s assists and man of the match display in United’s win against West Ham in the EFL Cup on Wednesday, he is finally settling in at Old Trafford.