Henrikh Mkhitaryan says the memory of his father keeps fuelling his desire to succeed as he prepares for his first season in the Premier League with Manchester United.
The Armenia attacker completed his move to Old Trafford from Borussia Dortmund earlier this month in a transfer worth around £26 million.
Mkhitaryan, 27, has been tipped to shine in his maiden season in the Premier League by former Dortmund teammate Ilkay Gundogan, with the now Manchester City midfielder saying: “[Mkhitaryan] will have a big, big impact for Manchester United.”
Spurring him on is the premature death of his father, Hamlet — a former footballer who earned two caps for Armenia — due to a brain tumour at the age of just 33.
“He was my drive, so he was my motivation because when I was young he was playing football professionally and I was always dreaming to go with him to the training ground,” Mkhitaryan told British newspaper reporters.
“It was my dream to continue his work and to also be a football player. It [his death] was a pity but that is life and life continues.
“I just hope he is proud looking down at me from the sky because I try to do everything to make him proud.”
Mkhitaryan added that former Dortmund teammate Shinji Kagawa always spoke positively about his time at Old Trafford despite the Japan playmaker enduring a largely disappointing own spell there, and as such United’s summer signing is wary of claiming he’ll find his best form right away.
“Every time Shinji talked about Manchester he told me something good so it gives a good impression,” Mkhitaryan said. “You have to try and do everything to show your best qualities otherwise you will not be here anymore.
“[United manager Jose Mourinho said] it doesn’t matter what they bought me for, I am not guaranteed to play the games, so I am trying to do my best to earn this place to play.”
The former Shakhtar Donetsk player is particularly looking forward to linking up with another of United’s summer acquisitions, Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
“He’s an amazing player, the name says everything,” he said. “I think it will be easy to play with him because he is a high-quality player. He won’t make only my life easier but the team’s life.”
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