One of Europe's most exciting attacking players, the Armenian international arrives at BVB having won seven trophies in three seasons, as well as the league's top goalscoring award, at previous club FC Shakhtar Donetsk. bundesliga.com presents ten things you might not have known about Dortmund’s new recruit...
Although born in the Armenian capital of Yerevan on 21 January 1989, Mkhitaryan spent his childhood years in southeastern France. His father, Hamlet, a respected professional player in his homeland, who would go on to become an Armenian international, accepted an offer to move to France and play for the now defunct ASOA Valence (pictured) just months after Henrikh's birth. Tragically, Hamlet died of a brain tumor at the age of just 33, after which the Mkhitaryans left France to move back to Yerevan in 1995.
Upon returning to Yerevan, Henrikh already knew what career he wanted to pursue. “When I was a child I’d watch my father play and always wanted to follow him to training," he told shakhtar.com in 2012. “When he didn’t take me I’d stay by the door crying. I always wanted to become a football player and I thank my parents, who helped me so much to realise this dream." Mkhitaryan joined Yerevan's biggest club FC Pyunik in 1995, developing into one of the country's most talented players.
After three seasons in Pyunik's senior team, he left Armenia for Ukrainian Premier League side FC Metalurh Donetsk in 2009. Following a staggering first season in which he scored 14 goals and became the club's youngest-ever captain, he moved across the city to Shakhtar. With the Pitmen he only got better, helping them win three successive domestic doubles, whilst becoming the division's top scorer in 2012/13 with 25 goals. He also appeared in every one of Shakhtar's UEFA Champions League games last season, including against BVB.
Mkhitaryan is widely recognised as Armenia's best active player. He was voted his country's Footballer of the Year in 2009, 2011 and 2012, as well as the CIS (Baltic and Commonwealth of Independent States) Footballer of the Year in 2012, making him the first Armenian player to win the award since the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991. In 2012, he won the IFFHS (International Federation of Football History & Statistics) award for Most Popular Footballer Among Currently Active Players and has eleven goals in 39 appearances for Armenia.
Speaking to the Football Federation of Armenia website ffa.am when he joined Dortmund, Mkhitaryan revealed that he "chose Borussia because it's a strong team with good players and a good coach. The supporters create a great atmosphere in the stadium and I hope to make them happy." The fans should therefore have no qualms about learning to hum along to the famous Sabre Dance by the Armenian composer Aram Khachaturian, the song that was played whenever he scored for Shakhtar.
Somewhat unsurprisingly for an attacking midfielder who grew up in France, Mkhitaryan's footballing idol is former Real Madrid CF and French World Cup-winning midfielder Zinedine Zidane (pictured scoring the winning goal for Madrid in the 2002 Champions League final against Bayer 04 Leverkusen). "I really appreciated his style of play and what he did on the pitch. He was like a magician to me."
During his time at Shakhtar, Mkhitaryan was known for not living in his own apartment but at the club's training ground. Speaking to Armenian newspaper panorama.am in February 2013 he said, "Since I've become something of an idol, I prefer to just concentrate on my football. My team-mates do tease me sometimes though. They even nick-named me President [of the training ground]." He has, however, admitted that he will be taking up Dortmund's offer to find him his own apartment.
Living abroad as a child has given Mkhitaryan a talent for learning languages. As well as his mother tongue Armenian, he speaks French, Russian, English and Portuguese. English is the one he'd "like to improve most", however, as he revealed to panorama.am. German is now on that list too.
His entire family have a grounding in professional football. While he and his father succeeded on the field, the women in his family have made their living off it. His mother Marina is head of the national teams department at the Armenia Football Federation, while his sister Monica works for UEFA. Mkhitaryan's biggest role model remains his dad, though: "I believe he watches me and is proud of me."
He is still just 24, but insists that he has no plans to continue working in football once he has retired. "I don't see myself becoming a coach, that isn't my cup of tea. I don't want my hair turning grey that quickly!" Instead, life after football will likely be business-oriented for Mkhitaryan, who has a diploma from the Institute of Physical Culture in Armenia and was taking a degree in Economics at the St Petersburg Institute, Yerevan branch before leaving the Ukraine. "When I graduate, I want to then study as a lawyer."
Compiled by Bernie Reeves