Berisha: battle-hardened Victory better for Grand Final hurdles
Besart Berisha believes Melbourne Victory's season of trials and tribulations has instilled the grit needed to knock off Newcastle Jets in the Hyundai A-League 2018 Grand Final.
While hosts Newcastle rarely stumbled in their rapid transformation from wooden spooners to title contenders, Victory have taken the arduous route to McDonald Jones Stadium.
They notched just two wins throughout the opening 10 rounds and for much of the campaign were fighting merely for a place in the top six.
But after finishing fourth and hitting dramatic late winners in both Finals Series matches to date - the latter dumping out reigning champions Sydney FC - Kevin Muscat's men are now bursting with belief.
"It shows we never give up. We have a great atmosphere in the group and a great mentality," Berisha told reporters.
"We had a tough season this year. We got tested, we stood tall and now we are in the Grand Final.
"In many, many aspects this year we got tested – injuries, red cards, [AFC] Champions League, a lot of travelling.
"But we stand tall and we stand together.
"That is a great feeling having this momentum through the team and I think it's going to help us."
A key member of a Victory squad packed with experience, Berisha is set to appear on Australian football's biggest stage for the fifth time since arriving at Brisbane Roar in 2011.
The noted post-season specialist says the occasion remains as special as ever.
"I'm just really very grateful to have the opportunity to play a Grand Final as a football player," he said.
"Every Grand Final you have an opportunity to play, it's always special.
"This is my fifth Grand Final in Australia and third for Melbourne Victory.
"You cannot get enough. You just want to play each and every one you can. You don't know when the next one is coming.
"I don't take for granted anything in the finals. I love these games. I want to be ready for my club and my team."
Watch the Hyundai A-League 2018 Grand Final LIVE on FOX Sports and simulcast FREE on One HD, or streamed live on TEN PLAY.