Although no Armenian appeared in the European Cup, especially the World Cup and even months, Mkhitaryan loomed alone. The 27-year-old midfielder has a successful career with German Bundesliga club Borussia Dortmund before being led by Manchester United to England at the start of the 2016/2017 season.
Notch 60 selections with 19 goals and considered the captain of the national team is proof that Armenia is really very dependent on Mkhitaryan as Gareth Bale in Wales or Cristiano Ronaldo for Portugal.
Icon difficult to replace
Mkhitaryan was the first Armenian to appear at the highest level of European football by strengthening the clubs established on the blue continent, such as Dortmund or MU. Apart from him, the closest was Roman Berezovsky, the aging guardian of Dynamo Moscow who had defended the Zenith St. Petersburg.
Thus, to call Mkhitaryan the only legend in Armenian football - at least until now - might not be excessive. The proof: there is not a single football player from a country ranked 112th FIFA (as of September 2016) able to reach the level reached by Mkhitaryan at that time.
The phenomenon of the only football legend does not only occur in Armenia with Mkhitaryan. There are still many countries in various parts of the world that have only one or two football players worthy of the name of the most independent players.
Previously, there was Alexander Hleb from Belarus who could be classified in this category. This person is indeed rare and valuable for a country that declared independence from the Soviet Union on July 27, 1990.
Originally from a small country in the throes of European football, Hleb has won the hearts of prestigious clubs such as VfB Stuttgart (Germany), Arsenal (England) and even Barcelona (Spain). So far, the title of Hleb as a football icon in his country is still difficult to replace because there is no Belarusian footballer able to compete at the highest level of European football.
"Fight" the most legendary title
Still from the Soviet Union, this time in Georgia, Kakha Kaladze also has the right to be claimed as the most famous football legend of his country. Kaladze is the main defender of the Italian giant AC Milan for nearly ten years, from 2001 to 2010. At the national team level, he has collected 83 selections for Georgia.
It's just that, unlike Mkhitaryan and Hleb, who seemed to be walking quietly alone, Kaladze had to "share" the legendary title with his classmate, Levan Kobiashvili. The former Schalke 04 back-end winger (Germany) has recorded 100 caps with the Georgian national team despite a popularity as low as that of Kaladze.
"Seize" the title of football legend also occurs in Finland. There are two of the most prominent names in the Scandinavian country, namely Jari Litmanen and Sami Hyypia. These two names are emblematic of the Finnish football public.
Litmanen took advantage of a golden period to strengthen the European elite clubs of the Netherlands, Ajax Amsterdam, from 1992 to 1999, with 159 caps and 91 goals. This brilliant incision earned him to be digested by Barcelona in Spain and later in Liverpool (England).
For Hyypia, this defender known for its hardness at the time is the idol of supporters Liverpool who bought for 10 seasons, from 1999 to 2009. After hanging his shoes in Bayer Leverkusen (Germany), he continues his career as a coach and assistant coach of his country's national team.