Berisha conquers Australia after 'toughest season ever'
Melbourne Victory forward Besart Berisha claimed his fourth Hyundai A-League championship after Saturday night’s Grand Final but says the 1-0 victory over Newcastle Jets is heading straight to the top of the pile.
The Hyundai A-League’s all-time leading goalscorer is now eclipsed only by Michael Theo for most Grand Final wins following the conclusion of Berisha’s seventh season in Australia – a campaign the Melbourne frontman has branded his ‘toughest season ever’.
Kevin Muscat’s side were winless after six matches and recorded their lowest points tally since the 2013-14 Season but stormed to a record-breaking fourth championship courtesy a sensational run of form at the back end of the year.
“This year was a very special year because we got tested at really difficult moments and in every aspect of the game,” said Berisha.
“It was an unbelievably difficult season but we stayed hard, stayed tall and we stuck together in the end to win in by far one of the toughest years.
“Believe me as a football player you don’t want to go through this kind of season but we did and we did like men and we deserve the trophy.”
Perhaps no one typifies the rugged persistence of Melbourne’s season than the 32-year-old Kosovo international who missed just three matches for Victory across both the Hyundai A-League regular season and AFC Champions League.
With eight Finals series goals – including four across his five Grand Final appearances - the Hyundai A-League veteran has carved out a reputation as the ultimate big-match player.
While Berisha’s name was for once absent from the scoresheet, the Victory hitman highlighted his Elimination Final-clinching strike against Adelaide United as the moment Victory truly started to believe.
“I could feel it after Adelaide, there was a belief growing in the group that we went through this season but kept getting up and working hard,” Berisha said.
“That is magical because if you have a team who can produce after a season like this we used that motivation to come here and own this trophy.”
More than it ever has during his remarkable career down under, Berisha finishes the 2017/18 campaign with his future in Australia slightly shrouded by uncertainty.
But there can be no doubt about the legacy Berisha has established in the Hyundai A-League.
“When I came to Australia I didn’t know what to expect - I came here to work hard, to show myself who I am,” he said.
“When I came to Brisbane, I conquered Brisbane.
“When I came to Melbourne, I conquered Australia.”