Henrikh Mkhitaryan has been awarded a first class medal of services to his home nation Armenia following his debut campaign at Manchester United.
The 28-year-old, who has claimed the Armenian footballer of the year award seven times, recovered from a difficult start at Old Trafford to make a total of 41 appearances, claiming 11 goals in the process.
His most recent strike was undoubtedly the most important of his career: an acrobatic flick to double Man United’s advantage in the Europa League final against Ajax.
Mkhitaryan was handed the medal – something usually reserved for servicemen and soldiers – by president Serzh Sargsyan at the Armenian Presidential Palace and was clearly delighted with receiving such an honour.
“I won’t compare the medal with any goal, you can’t compare those things,” he said soon after the ceremony.
“When Serzh Sargsyan was handing me the medal, he thanked me for good representation of Armenia.”
If you trawl through Mkhitaryan’s interviews from this season, a couple of things become immediately apparent: firstly, and most notably, he is a graciously humble individual and that, secondly, the two motivating factors he always points towards are his family and indeed the people of Armenia.
The 28-year-old, born in the lead-up to the collapse of the USSR, experienced a turbulent upbringing, moving between France and his homeland as conflict ensued.
Not much is known of Armenian culture and their people, but Mkhitaryan has put the former Soviet republic on the map and will be rightfully regarded as a national hero for as long as he lives.