Yura Movsisyan: to be the best you must expect the best
Published: Monday December 12, 2011
Washington - 24-year-old Yura Movsisyan has emerged as one of the best Armenian athletes anywhere and also an increasingly well known name in European football. His most recent statistics - four goals and five assists in nine matches for Armenia as well as eight goals and three assists for FC Krasnodar in Russian Premiere League - speak for themselves.
Movsisyan answered questions, including those submitted by readers via e-mail and Facebook, that The Armenian Reporter's Emil Sanamyan asked him in a December 9 phone interview.
Just a normal guy who loves Starbucks; khash - not so much
AR: Hello Yura! Now that you have a few days off, how do you begin your day?
YM: First of all, I go and get Starbucks, this is what I miss a lot [in Krasnodar and Yerevan], I have to have my Starbucks. Then it depends on what we, my family need to do, what my parents need, seeing different friends, etc.
AR: So you don't get the star treatment and have people run errands for you?
YM: No, not at all. I am a normal man and there is nothing special about me.
AR: Any food preferences in LA for you?
YM: When I am back here I just like to eat what I miss in Russia; there are no specific preferences, but I just like to eat a lot when I am back home, and I eat a lot more than I normally do. I just need to get that need out of the way, with all the food that I miss.
AR: Any khash for you during this winter?
YM: I am not a big khash eater, but I eat everything else.
AR: And I guess no alcohol or smoking?
YM: No, not at all.
AR: When people see you arrive to a stadium you like most other players have earphones on. What sort of music do you make sure to take with you?
YM: I listen to everything, Armenian and anything that has a good beat, anything that keeps me calm. I like a lot of hip hop, European songs.
Respect for other people is key
AR: Your son is now about two years old, how much time do you get to spend with your family?
YM: It is a bit difficult to spend a lot of time with them, because I am always traveling and I am always playing, that is the difficult part. But I try to spend as much time as possible, when I get a little bit of time with them. It is very important to me be home, to see my son.
AR: As a father what do you want to do for your son? What do you want to make sure that he has and learns from you?
YM: First and foremost, I want to make sure he has everything he needs to become a normal person. Another thing, and this was very important for me when I grew up, is to have respect for other people. He is a little kid now, but it needs to start early, I don't want him to grow up an annoying kid.
AR: Who would you say have been the biggest influences on your life?
YM: My parents and my father especially, as well as my brothers. Being in a new country and not having other relatives here, the family has been very important. And also in terms of playing soccer, they have helped me stay disciplined.
AR: You are very intense on the field and very calm off of it. Are there two Yura's, one the football player and another the person?
YM: There is not too much difference, but I definitely don't want to be the same person on the field and off of it, where I just want to be a normal person.
AR: In terms of the game, what is it about football that makes so many people love it and even obsess over it?
YM: People who understand the game know how difficult it is to play and how difficult it is to be a footballer. And I think that's the main thing that people respect, and the beauty of the game is that you get to score goals, and that's what people especially love and pay attention to.
Making a name for Armenia and himself
AR: We last interviewed you when you just signed on with Armenia over a year ago. You must have gone to Armenia with certain expectations, have they been realized?
YM: Yes, definitely. From first moment I went to Armenia, I knew what I could do and I was confident in my abilities and everything turned out as I liked it to be. I wanted to make a name for myself and for the Armenian national team, and we did that.
AR: What have been the most memorable highlights?
YM: The beginning of the qualification campaign, in the first game with Ireland that we lost 0:1, I think we did a very good job and showed that we could play against anybody. That started it all and then we started to win games.
We scored seven goals against Slovakia, which has players -particularly defenders - playing for top teams in top leagues including English and Russian.
I think the whole qualification campaign has been the highlight, because every game was important and in every game we were able to step up as a team.
AR: Anything that hasn't happened?
YM: We were unlucky not to qualify for Euro 2012, but that's all.
AR: Henrikh Mkhitaryan said that Armenia was "deeply wounded" by the way the last game with Ireland went on, the refereeing etc. Is this how you feel as well?
YM: Yeah, definitely, it is hard to go through something like this as a young team, but it is a learning experience and I hope the guys learn, and we come out strongly in the next qualification.
AR: Have you had a chance to meet Aras Ozbiliz who was the latest addition to Armenia team?
YM: Yes, I've met him and I think he is a great guy and will help out our national team a lot. He is very excited to play. It is great to have him on the team.
AR: Do you feel any weight of responsibility now that expectations from not just football fans but pretty much all Armenians are so high from the team going forward?
YM: People have the right to have their expectations and it is pretty normal to have those expectations, because if you want to be the best you also have to expect the best.
AR: People want to know how to get a jersey with your name on it and have footballs, posters or photos signed by you?
YM: I know that next year Adidas will be making our national team jerseys and I think those should become available through http://www.adidas.com. (Ed.: The current maker of national team jerseys Hummel does not sell them at http://www.hummel.dk and other distributors either do not sell named jerseys or have run out.)
For now I have been bringing a few jerseys from Armenia for friends here in LA. For other stuff, people can contact me via Facebook.
Moving up the club ladder in Russia and, perhaps, England
AR: How has been your Russia experience, getting used to Krasnodar?
YM: Obviously, it has been difficult going from LA to Krasnodar. But for me the city is secondary to playing soccer and that is what I do.
AR: There is a large community in that area and Krasnodar itself; have you met local Armenians?
YM: Yes, there is a big number of Armenians there and I definitely met quite a few of them, and they make themselves heard.
AR: Krasnodar has two premier league teams, your FC Krasnodar is owned by a businessman of Armenian descent Sergey Galitsky and the other is FC Kuban which is sponsored by Oleg Mkrtchyan, who also sponsors Armenia's national team. How is that dynamic working out?
YM: The rivalry is there. We had two derby matches, we won one and they won one, so rivalry is just getting bigger.
AR: There have been persistent reports that the top Russian teams, Zenit-St. Petersburg and CSKA-Moscow, are interested in recruiting you. And Yerevan magazine just reported that there may also be interest from English Premiere League. What can you say about that?
YM: Well that is of course interesting, but I really don't want to comment on any of the teams or any of the leaks because I think that the interest is there and people who need to be working on it are working on it.
AR: Any official transfer news to expect soon?
YM: I don't know because you never know what teams are thinking.
AR: Do you still follow MLS and your former teams? Real Salt Lake in particular just reached the semi-finals, did you see any of those games?
YM: Yes, definitely, I've seen the games and I stay on top of their matches.
AR: Any regrets about not staying put and getting selected for U.S. national team?
YM: No, not all, no regrets.
AR: The soccer camp at Pasadena High School (on December 10), how did that idea come about?
YM: I have done this sort of thing before and I'd like to do these camps on an annual basis, probably every December to give back to the kids. We get a lot of requests from fans, via Facebook, etc. to get together. And it is very important to connect with local kids, to share my knowledge and this is an opportunity.