Hovsepyan still hungry with ArmeniaTuesday 30 September 2008
by Khachik Chakhoyan from Yerevan

Armenia's 35-year-old captain Sargis Hovsepyan is hoping that he still
has time to achieve something significant with the national team,
saying: "My dreams haven't come true yet, but I have not lost hope for
the future."

Living legend
Depending on who is counting, Hovsepyan has played 99 or 100 senior
games for Armenia, starting his international career at the age of 22
in his nation's first game following independence - a 0-0 friendly
draw against Moldova on 14 October 1992. The right-sided defender has
become an iconic figure in the national team, but is not ready to give
up playing just yet.

'Not lost hope'
Armenia lost their first two 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifiers against
Spain and Turkey, but Hovsepyan is yet to feel the strain. "After the
USSR collapsed, it was hard to build a strong national team or a good
Armenian club," he reflected. "I really want to achieve more with the
national team, as well as at club level. My dreams haven't come true
yet, but I have not lost hope for the future."

Zenit peaks
Hovsepyan returned to Armenia to rejoin FC Pyunik in 2004, having left
the club in 1997 to embark upon what he acknowledges was the most
exciting phase of his career, a spell in Russia with FC Zenit
St. Petersburg and then FC Torpedo-ZIL Moskva. In 1999 he won the
Russian Cup with Zenit and two years later won the bronze medal as his
side finished third in the Premier-Liga.

Glory days
"I'm glad I played for Zenit for a few years," remembered Hovsepyan,
who was at the Petrovsky Stadium from 1997 to 2003. "People love
football in St Petersburg. I have brilliant memories of returning to
the city after winning the cup. Thousands of fans came to welcome us
at the airport. The same happened after winning the bronze in 2001. I
spent the best time of my career in Russia."

Ongoing passion
However, leaving the bright lights of Russia behind has not sapped
Hovsepyan's enthusiasm. "The Armenian championship isn't the strongest
league I played in," said Hovsepyan, who turns 36 at the start of
November. "You can't compare it with Russian league where I spent five
years, but I'm preparing for the matches in the same way as I used
to. It's all about professionalism in football.

Best to come
"Fortunately I only had a few injuries in my career," he added,
explaining the secret of his success. "As long as the team and coach
need me I'll give 100 per cent of myself on the field. Even after 17
years, I remember each and every one of my national-team games. Of
course, the successful ones I remember better, but even despite the
bad start in qualifying, I believe that best is yet to come."

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