If I score against Manchester United again in the future, I will keep my emotions under control, even if it’s a scorpion kick, Armenia international Henrikh Mkhitarayn says in a long-read story published on Man United’s official website.
Mkhitaryan speaks about the importance of being creative and recalls the scorpion kick against Sunderland on Boxing Day in 2016.
“Throughout my life in football, I have always loved to play as a no.10, behind the striker, because it gave me freedom to think more and create more during the game. All the way through my career, whenever I have the ball, I am trying to have two or three options available to me at any one moment. Once you have those options it’s important to make the right decision at the right time,” Mkhitaryan writes.
Every now and then, even when you are in a game, even when you don’t have time to think about it, you can do something creative and crazy in a fraction of a second. That happened to me on Boxing Day in 2016,” he continues.
“United were beating Sunderland 2-0 and the stadium was already very happy. I think perhaps the supporters were buzzing because it was Christmas, their team was winning, so they all had better feelings. It meant Old Trafford was more loud than usual,” the Armenian recalls.
“They were even louder when I scored to make it 3-0, but I had no idea what had happened. I remember Zlatan had the ball on the right-hand side and he crossed it into the box. If he had put the ball in front of me, I might have had time to think, to control the ball, to wait and decide what to do with the chance. I might have missed!”
“Instead, the cross was behind me. I had no time to think or decide what to do with the ball. There was only one option for me. Try to score with the backheel,” Henrikh says.
It wasn’t until after he went home and started watching the goal on YouTube that he realized what he’d done.
“Everyone was joking that Zlatan had taught me to score that type of goal, because he’s the king of the backheel goals. Even though he got the assist, I actually think he was very jealous that he didn’t score it. (I’m just kidding, Zlatan!),” Mkhitaryan continues.
Henrikh moved to Arsenal from United and went back to Old Trafford twice as a visiting player.
“It was a little strange in my first game back when I scored against United, not long after leaving the club. It was only the second time in my career that I scored against a former team of mine – I had done it once before in Ukraine – and I didn’t celebrate either time. I’m not the type of guy who’s going to celebrate against his former club because I had a very good time at Old Trafford, a great time in Manchester. I won three trophies in a very small time, so I’m very thankful to everyone at the club, the fans, the players and the staff,” he says.
“I can say that if I score against United again in the future, I will keep my emotions under control and I won’t celebrate again. Even if it’s a scorpion kick!” Mkhitaryan concludes.