Besart ready to take A-League over once again

Put your hand up if you'd heard of Besart Berisha before he joined Brisbane Roar two years ago.

Put your hand up if you'd heard of Besart Berisha before he joined Brisbane Roar two years ago.

I, for one, hadn-t, and for many he seemed an underwhelming signing by a team looking to defend its title. Further investigation via Google revealed a nomadic career in Europe (including spells in England, Norway and Denmark) which had never reached any great heights. I-m sure many wondered if this was another European journeyman heading to our shores with little hope of making an impact. Thankfully, we were wrong.

Besart may have flying been under the radar, but he wasn-t a complete gamble. The Albanian came highly recommended after playing in the German second-tier with Arminia Bielefeld alongside Dario Vidosic (who's father Rado was on the Roar coaching staff at the time). Brisbane had lost Costa Rican striker Jean Carlos Solorzano (to Melbourne Victory), and there was a void that needed filling. The previous season, coach Ange Postecoglou had unearthed another 'unknown' in the mercurial German, Thomas Broich. Could this be another stroke of genius?

Sixty-three games and 37 goals later, Berisha has become the most feared striker in the Hyundai A-League. His first season saw him win the Golden Boot alongside a host of media awards, as well as score both goals in a memorable grand final victory over Perth Glory. Undoubtedly, the signing has been an overwhelming success for both club and player.

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To judge the success of Berisha on his goal scoring record is one thing, but that's just a small part of what makes him such a success. 'Bess' has embraced the city and its people as though he was born here. In a rugby league-dominated town, everyone knows and loves him. He's now considered one of us, and we all know how Queenslanders are hard markers.

Berisha's two seasons haven-t been without controversy. At times it seems he could start an argument if he was the only person in the room. I-m sure even his teammates shake their heads on occasion and wonder what-s going on inside his head. The infamous clash with Pascal Bosschaart was one of the most bizarre things I-ve ever seen at a football game. There's no doubt that on that occasion he crossed the line and let his passion get the better of him. That-s something all opposing fans hope to see when they try to bait him whenever the Roar are on the road. It makes for wonderful theatre.

For a sustained period last season it was clear Berisha was hampered by injury, and his effectiveness waned. If he had sat this period out, nobody would have questioned his commitment. Instead he carried on.

After one game, I noticed a large amount of strapping around his stomach. Clearly, he had an abdominal injury. When I asked him why he didn-t rest, he replied: ''We're struggling, my team needs me.” To me, that moment captured all that is good about Besart. He's a warrior in an orange shirt, the sort of man every player wants in their team.

So what can we expect from our favourite Albanian in the season ahead? Plenty.

For the first time, he'll get the benefit of Matt McKay-s creativity as well as that of Liam Miller. Put that alongside his already outstanding partnership with Broich, and things are looking very bright for the Roar. Berisha's pre-season form has been outstanding. He's injury free again, and looking very sharp.

I, for one, can-t wait until round two, and the visit of Sydney FC and his old sparring partner, Bosschaart. It-s the type of clash we love up here, fighting against the “big boys” from down south, The Roar have skill and style, but they also have the best striker in the Hyundai A-League in their side. He'd always be the first man picked in my team.