Lucas Zelarayan always has a trick up his sleeve, especially when stepping up to take a free kick.
But the Columbus Crew midfielder perhaps offered his biggest surprise yet when announcing on Tuesday that he's joining the Armenian national team.
The 29-year-old playmaker, who has Armenian roots, was born in Argentina and never represented either country at any level.
Now, after negotiations with the president of Armenia's football federation and their national team coach, Zelarayan will feature for the European country in October's World Cup qualifiers against Iceland and Romania.
“I have made a very important decision for me – to play for Armenian national team. It wasn’t a decision made in one day, it was a well-thought step. I have spoken to the FFA president Armen Melikbekyan and the national team head coach Joaquin Caparros during the last year. They presented the program of the federation to me,” Zelarayán told the FFA official website.
“I knew about my Armenian roots, but I haven’t had close relations with the Armenian community in Argentina. That’s why I needed time to make this important decision. After discussing everything with my family in September I made a decision to join the Armenian national team. Now I am excited about it. I am aware of the big goals this team wants to achieve and I am ready to do my best to make this happen. I am happy to join the Armenian national team during this important period and I hope to have new achievement with the national team,” he added.
Armenia are second in UEFA Group J with 11 points from six matches, four points behind group-leading Germany. The top squad directly qualifies for the World Cup, while the second-place side advances to the playoff stage.
Zelarayan has been among MLS' most electrifying players since signing with Columbus as a Designated Player out of Liga MX's Tigres UANL. Aside from leading the Crew to the 2020 MLS Cup title, he also took home MLS Newcomer of the Year honors.
Through 41 games with Columbus, Zelaryan has 13 goals and eight assists.