MANCHESTER, UK (Combined Sources) — On Sunday, December 11, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, became the first ever Armenian-born player in the Premier League, the prestigious British soccer league, to score a goal.
Mkhitaryan, who plays for Manchester United, score the team’s only goal against Tottenham Hotspur, to win the game for United, at Old Trafford, the team’s home turf.
The team had acquired Mkhitaryan last year from Borussia Dortmund in Germany for a hefty sum.
Manchester United coach (or manager) Jose Mourinho had not used him often since the transfer. Now, he says he has been impressed by the player’s determination to prove his worth.
“I have had similar processes and adaptation with other players,” Mourinho said at a press conference Sunday.
“We bought him, he was not chosen by other people, he was bought because I asked the club to do it. “So it would be more frustrating for me if everything went wrong. In that period, when he did not play, he was a great professional. Another guy would blame the pitch, the weather, the manager — but he was quiet, closed his mouth, worked really hard and waited for opportunity,” Mourinho said.
Mkhitaryan left the game in a stretcher because he was tackled by the opposing team. According to the team physician, he will be sidelined for just two weeks as a result of an ankle injury.
But Mourinho, who is hopeful of having the Armenian back in the team during the Christmas period, feared the worst initially.
“When I saw the tackle on TV, I was scared,” Mourinho said. “It’s a pity because he will miss matches in his best period, but at least we won’t miss him for long.
“Hopefully he can play at Christmas. We believe that is possible,” he added.
The midfielder’s strike ensured that Armenia became the 96th different country to have a Premier League goalscorer in their ranks.
Mkhitaryan grabbed his first league goal for United during the first-half as United sealed a much-needed victory to keep the pressure on the early top flight frontrunners.
The former Soviet republic, that has a population of three million, had to wait a while to get on the Premier League scoresheet as the Armenian star was in exile from the United first team at the start of the season.
Reflecting on his spell out of the side, Mkhitaryan said: “It’s always a pleasure to play. To play for Manchester United is a dream. I’m always happy to start a game for this team. I’m always trying to do my best for this team.”
“English football is really different than football in other countries. So if you’re playing in Germany, France, England or Spain you have to get used to playing in that league,” Mkhitaryan said.
“In the beginning it was a little bit hard but I keep doing everything that is needed to become a Premier League player,” he added.
“I’ve done hard work and I’ve tried to do everything the manager is asking from me to play in this team and to be useful for the team,” the Armenia international said.
(Reports from the Guardian, Daily Mail and Public Radio of Armenia were used to compile this story.)