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Hamlet Mkhitaryan’s Life and Career: Part 1

Mediamax Sport decided to start a special project composed of 5 parts devoted to Hamlet Mkhitaryan.

Hamlet Mkhitaryan with his teammates.
Hamlet Mkhitaryan with his teammates.

Photo: From Samvel Poghosyan’s archive.

Hamlet Mkhitaryan with his teammates.
Hamlet Mkhitaryan with his teammates.

Photo: From Albert Sargsyan’s archive.

Hamlet Mkhitaryan attacking.
Hamlet Mkhitaryan attacking.

Photo: From Marina Tashchyan’s archive.

Hamlet Mkhitaryan in Ararat FC, Levon Ishtoyan is on left.
Hamlet Mkhitaryan in Ararat FC, Levon Ishtoyan is on left.

Photo: From Marina Tashchyan’s archive.

Hamlet Mkhitaryan attacking.
Hamlet Mkhitaryan attacking.

Photo: From Marina Tashchyan’s archive.

Hamlet Mkhitaryan in France.
Hamlet Mkhitaryan in France.

Photo: From Samvel Poghosyan’s archive.


Nowadays, many people in Armenia are rooting for Henrikh Mkhitaryan, they’re excited about his success, beautiful goals and effective passes. Football fans and sports commentators often say Henrikh continues the best traditions of his father, Hamlet Mkhitaryan. But the new generation knows very little about him as a person and football player - if it has heard about Hamlet Mkhitaryan at all.

Mediamax Sport decided to start a special project composed of 5 parts devoted to Hamlet Mkhitaryan. Why especially now? 30 years ago, in 1984, Hamlet Mkhitaryan scored 18 goals in Soviet Union Football Championship and ranked the second among forwards having scored only a goal less than Sergey Andreev.

“I have always loved to score a goal and frankly speaking, that was what attracted me in football”

The future football player took his first steps in the sport as a gymnast, at Olympic champion Albert Azaryan’s class. But it was football that became Mkhitaryan’s future.

Hamlet wasn’t going to end his football “career” in the yard playing football with his peers. Everything started on the day when 13-year-old Hamlet was noticed by Ararat football player Ashot Sahakyan when the boy was playing football in the year. At those years, football players were instructed to keep track of active and talented children and enroll them in football schools.

“I have always loved scoring and frankly speaking, that was what attracted and fascinated me in football”. As a teenager, I scored many goals. I remember during Junior Cup, during the match with Azerbaijani team I scored 7 goals in the first half. And in 1978, we took the third prize in the Armenian national youth team at All-Soviet Union  Sports Contest. And I was invited to the USSR youth team that year”, said Hamlet Mkhitaryan.


Hamlet Mkhitaryan with his teammates.
Photo: from Albert Sargsyan’s archive.

In 1979, Arkady Andreasyan invited Mkhitaryan to Kotayk football club which was playing in the second USSR league. Already after 7 months, he started playing in the second team of Ararat football club. It took him only one season to join the first team of the Yerevan club and play in the USSR Premier League.

In 1983, as a substitute playermost of cases, Mkhitaryan distinguished himself as an active and goal-oriented footballer. In the same year before the season kicked off, chief coach Arkady Andreasyan said that they were checking out young football players “including winger Hamlet Mkhitaryan who bravely fights for a ball and doesn’t miss any chance to score”.

Mkhitaryan sets a record in Ararat FC by number of goals scored in a season

In 1984, Nikita Simonyan returned to Ararat: under his leadership, the Yerevan football club became a champion and won USSR Cup in 1973.

“I have always rooted for Ararat. 1973 was an excellent year and I remembered the last game of the season when our players won Zenit football club 3:2 and became champions. 2 goals were scored by my favorite player, Eduard Markarov. Fancy how happy I was when after the game, we as pupils of the football school were told that we were going to give flowers to Ararat football players. And I handed the flowers to Markarov”, Hamlet Mkhitaryan recalled.


Hamlet Mkhitaryan in Ararat FC, Levon Ishtoyan is on left.
Photo: from Marina Tashchyan’s archive.

It was the legendary coach of the legendary team that started trusting Mkhitaryan more and from 1984, he started playing in the first team.

In the first game of the season, Ararat hosted Moscow Dinamo football club at Hrazdan stadium and defeated it with a score 5:2. Mkhitaryan became the hero of the match scoring 4 goals and immediately becoming the best forward of the championship.


Video is provided by M. Tashchyan special for Sport.Mediamax.am.

“In professional football, one can’t achieve anything only with speed and strong kicks, one needs technical acumen, trust and time to understand his teammates. These 4 goals were results of work and passes of the team. I would like to be remain the best forward at the end of the season as well”, confessed the football player after the match.
 
Football specialists and fans waited for a long time when the young football player will fully demonstrate himself. And that day marked the start of Mkhitaryan’s success.

In 1984 Soviet Championship, he scored almost at all the matches and fought for the best forward title till the end of the season. As the newspapers of that time write, the fans at once loved Mkhitaryan not only for his courage, speed and quick orientation but also for his insatiable desire to score to the rival. Mkhitaryan did dramatic moves, used good dribblings, mighty kicks and excellent technique.


Hamlet Mkhitaryan attacking.
Photo: from Marina Tashchyan’s archive.

Specialists said it was hard to define Hamlet Mkhitaryan’s position: “At first, Hamlet is active on the left wing, and then on the right wing and then he quickly moves to the center. He is especially dangerous during counterattacks - he can get rid of fullbacks and score straight off. He immediately kicks the ball once he gets it. He scored many times from 25-30 meters”.

At the 47th USSR Championship, Hamlet Mkhitaryan and Sergey Andreev were the leaders fighting for the title of the best forward. But by the end of the season, Andreev left the Armenian football player behind with 1 goal and took the leadership in the rating. Mkhitaryan was the second with 18 goals.

Mutual understanding and balanced cooperation are critical in the match

According to Hamlet Mkhitaryan, there were 2 reasons for abundance of goals in 1984:

“Before 1984, I mainly took part in trainings and matches of junior and youth teams and spent little time with Ararat FC. The second reason was that if you want to play effectively you should first of all use various technical tricks. This year, my coach and teammates helped me to do that and I managed to score many goals”.

“Soviet Warrior” magazine awarded “Knight of Attack” prize to Mkhitaryan who scored hat-tricks three times and a poker once during 1984 Championship.

Mkhitaryan admitted that he can agree with and understand each teammate on the field. According to him, mutual understanding and balanced cooperation are critical during the match.


Hamlet Mkhitaryan attacking.
Photo: from Marina Tashchyan’s archive.

“You play in a more courageous and determined way when Khoren Hovhannisyan makes a pass. His passes as a rule are abrupt and very calculated one thing is left - to turn them into goals”, noted the football player.

Chief coach of the team Nikita Simonyan admitted that Hamlet Mkhitaryan with his approach to trainings and good game should be a role model for many football players.

After the successful season when the team went to Bulgaria on a vacation, Mkhitaryan stayed in Yerevan to recover from trauma. In a year, the fullbacks of competing teams already played against Mkhitaryan more alertly. Shortly afterwards, the Ararat footballer made a change in his playing. Being lean and short, Hamlet understood that he couldn’t be successful in power play and avoided it if possible more focusing on technique and speed.

“Last year, Hamlet was the second on the list of forwards and after that , fullbacks of competitors started following him more attentively that’s why his playing style somehow changed”, said Nikita Simonyan.

After 7 years of playing in Ararat (168 matches and 46 goals), Hamlet Mkhitaryan moved to Abovyan Kotayk football club in 1988.

Leaving for France and unfulfilled goals

In a year, an Armenian from France Abraham Hayrapetyan who later became the godfather of Hamlet Mkhitaryan’s family invited Kotayk to France. After friendly matches, leaders of Armenian Valence football club got interested in Mkhitaryan and they did their best for the footballer to move to Europe from Soviet Union. Thus, the Armenian football player became one of the first Soviet “legionaries”.


Hamlet Mkhitaryan in France.
Photo: from Samvel Poghosyan’s archive.

The yearly contract was extended to 5 years as Mkhitaryan managed to demonstrate himself well. He took part in 112 matches in Valence and scored 30 goals.

In 1994-1995, Mkhitaryan who played in Ararat from Issy-les-Moulineaux had to finish his career of a football player. 32-year-old Hamlet was diagnosed with brain tumor. Unfortunately, three operations and family’s efforts didn’t save Mkhitaryan’s life. After returning to Yerevan on May 6, 1996, one of the brightest representatives of Armenian football, Hamlet Mkhitaryan, passed away at the age of 33.

Mediamax Sport will present the memories of Hamlet Mkhitaryan’s teammates, family members and relatives in the following articles of the project.

To be continued.

Hasmik Babayan
Gohar Nalbandian

Idea of the project: Ara Tadevosyan.

English translation by Sirvard Amatuni

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