Sargis Hovsepyan, Armenia's all-time record holder for international appearances, has decided to call time on his professional career at the age of 39.
The centre-back made his Armenia debut in 1992 and went on to become an iconic figure in his two decades with the national team. Captaining the side, he took his final tally of caps to 131 in Armenia's FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Malta and Bulgaria earlier this month. "I never thought I would play for such a long time," he explained. "I paid attention to my own performances and tried to be useful to my team."
Hovsepyan's international efforts were recognised in October last year when he received a commemorative cap and medal from UEFA to mark his century of national-team outings, before taking to the field for Armenia's 4-1 victory against the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying.
On the club stage, the defender first began turning heads while at FC Pyunik, where he won three league titles, the Armenian Cup and two Armenian player of the year awards before leaving to join FC Zenit St Petersburg in 1998. He played 153 matches in a five-year stay with Zenit which yielded the Russian Cup in 1999, before returning to Pyunik in 2004 to collect seven more championships and three Armenian Cups as captain.
A role model for many Armenian players, Hovsepyan earned respect for his professional attitude and leadership skills. "It may seem a long time, but for me my career felt like a short, happy flash," he said. "It was a very difficult decision and I thought about it for two days. I'm going to take some rest now and then I'll decide what to do next. I don't think I'm a legend; I simply did my job. Maybe my son will follow in my footsteps – he's 12 and also plays football. I'd be happy to see him in an Armenia shirt one day."
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