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Yura Movsisyan: Lowdown on the Russian League’s current top scorer

For a club that was formed just a mere 4 years ago, FC Krasnodar haven’t done too badly. Back in just 2008 after being created, the prospect of trying to reach the top level of Russian football seemed a somewhat daunting task. The top flight seems a long way away … Continue reading →

For a club that was formed just a mere 4 years ago, FC Krasnodar haven’t done too badly. Back in just 2008 after being created, the prospect of trying to reach the top level of Russian football seemed a somewhat daunting task. The top flight seems a long way away when stuck in the 3rd and final professional tier of Russian football, but by the time the 2011/2012 season kicked off, Krasnodar were already mixing it with Russia’s elite.

After spending two seasons in Russia’s first division in 2009 and 2010, Krasnodar found themselves being promoted to the Premier League by default following the financial collapse of Saturn and FC Moscow, but since then they have proved to everyone that they’re certainly worthy of their place amongst the big boys. Last season they managed to finish an impressive 9th, just one place behind their better established city rivals Kuban Krasnodar.

Their success is down to many factors, but their clever acquisitions along the way have helped more than anything else. After being instated for the 2011/2012 Premier League season, astute signings were made from all around Europe, but none have turned out quite as effective as Armenian forward Yura Movsisyan.

Born in the Azerbaijan capital of Baku to an Armenian family, Movsisyan is still only 25 years old, even if he does look slightly older, but he’s only just entering his prime. Although he has been playing professionally for only 6 years, he has always been full of goals. With 159 appearances on the field to date in club football, he already has 54 goals to his name, not including the five goals for his Armenian national side, and he is showing no signs of stopping.

But for a footballer who was born in Eastern Europe, he has had a somewhat strange and unusual introduction to football. From Baku, he was soon whisked away with his family to the rather more attractive prospect of living in the United States, living amongst a large Armenian community in Los Angeles. But it was there, that his special footballing ability became clear.

It all started with joining his college team, Pasadena City College, located in California not too far away from LA, and it didn’t take too long for his talent to stand out. Having played just a single year for the college football team, MLS scouts liked what they saw when witnessing him on the field, and in 2006, Movsisyan found himself in the MLS draft pick. The Kansas City Wizards managed to snap him up as their fourth pick, making Movsisyan the highest ever draft pick in the MLS for someone who has never played for the US at international youth level.

Movsisyan was straight away placed in the first team squad for the 2006/2007 MLS season despite never having had any professional experience in his life before, and rather predictably, it all seemed a bit too much too soon. Racking up an impressive 28 appearances in just his debut season, the goals didn’t exactly flow however, plundering just a measly five goals, and it wasn’t too much of a surprise to see him being offloaded.

Traded to Real Salt Lake in the MLS just in time for the 2007/2008 season, not too much was expected of him following his somewhat anticlimactic opening season in America, but this is just where his career started to get moving. In 53 appearances for the Utah outfit, Movsisyan managed to hit the back of the net a healthy 15 times, but that doesn’t quite tell the whole story.

In his second and final full season with the club in 2008 and 2009, with a goal against Chivas USA in the first round of the playoffs, he became the first player in Real Salt Lake’s history to score a goal in the MLS play-offs, and with that etched his name into the history books, along with claiming his first professional title as a footballer, as Real Salt Lake surprisingly claimed the 2009 MLS Cup.

Europe was beckoning, however. But for a player whose career was just starting to turn in the right direction, a move to modest Danish top flight outfit Randers might not have been everyone’s choice. Nevertheless, Movsisyan made the move to Scandinavia in the January of 2010, and to the surprise of many, his talent was far from being stunted- it only grew and grew.

Having joined Randers in the middle of the 2009 and 2010 season, he joined a club which was involved in a serious relegation battle, but within just a few months, Movsisyan had settled quickly enough to almost single-handedly save his new employers from the dreaded drop, as the goals began to flow.

Randers couldn’t hold on their saviour for long however, and in January 2011 – exactly a year after arriving in Denmark – he found himself once again climbing the footballing ladder, joining new Russian Premier League outfit Krasnodar, after averaging close to a goal every 2 games for Randers having scored an impressive 12 goals in just 30 appearances.

Transferring from an average European league to the fastest growing league in the world wouldn’t ever be the easiest task for any player, but the Armenian proved himself good enough to go against the grain. Despite being set back by an injury early on, he managed to establish himself amongst Russia’s best, and really managed find his scoring boots on a highly consistent basis. Being able to settle in Russia is not something that strikers in particular find easy, but an eye catching 13 goals in his debut season for Krasnodar helped to make himself a household name for all Russian football supporters.

His strong physique has enabled him to cope with the physicalities that the Russian league offers, but it’s his clinical finishing that has fired his club Krasnodar to challenging for a place in the top half of the table. Current national champions Zenit Saint Petersburg have been repeatedly been on Movsisyan’s trail, but with the winter transfer window already approaching, it remains to be seen if Krasnodar can continue to hold on to their man. Already averaging a goal every two games with 7 goals in 14 games this season, oppositions defences are finding him a menace to keep control of, and any free space given away is certain to be punished.

Movsisyan has established himself as the leader of the Armenian national team too, with 4 goals in 5 games in Armenia’s impressive but ultimately unsuccessful UEFA Euro 2012 qualifying campaign. And with 5 goals overall in just 18 appearances, he’s already amongst the leaders of the Armenian team.

Almost every year, the 25-year-old Armenian continues to go from strength to strength, and Movsisyan has gone from playing college football in America to being one of the leading goal scorers in the fastest growing league in the world in just 6 years – and with the prolific sniper just entering his prime, the best is still yet to come.


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