He was a Brisbane Roar hero, scoring 48 times in 76 appearances for the club. But Besart Berisha has swapped Orange for Navy Blue and will this weekend turn out against his former club for the first time with Melbourne Victory.
Roar are missing his goals and fierce competitiveness this season, so ahead of tonight’s blockbuster in Melbourne here are some of Bes’s Brisbane best moments.
Berisha announces himself to the league
It took just six minutes of his fourth game for the club in 2011 for Berisha to show he was going to be something special.
After going behind early on against Adelaide United, an Henrique penalty drew scores level before Berisha took control.
He scored a hat-trick within just six minutes, the fastest ever in the Hyundai A-League. He capped his explosive display with a fourth goal after the break to not only help the Roar to a 7-1 drubbing of the Reds but sending a signal to the rest of the league.
Grand final hero
Arguably his most memorable game in Roar colours, Berisha’s impact on the 2011/12 grand final against Perth Glory will never be forgotten.
Trailing 1-0 inside the last 10 minutes, Berisha pulled his side off the canvas with a trademark header to level the scores.
Just when it looked like they would be forced to go to extra-time for the second season in a row, Berisha was at the centre of one of the most infamous incidents in Hyundai A-League grand final history deep into stoppage-time.
Berisha went down under a challenge from Glory’s Liam Miller, winning a controversial penalty despite howls of protest from Glory players.
The striker picked himself up to slot the penalty and deliver the Roar the title in his first season with the club.
Berisha brace helps net record
Roar surged into Australian sporting folklore in 2011/12, breaking the 74-year record of rugby league’s Eastern Suburbs to make it to 36 games in a row without defeat.
It was an incredible achievement from the Roar’s all-conquering squad. . While Berisha only joined the club at the tail-end of that run, he showed his sense of occasion by producing on the night the record fell.
Perth Glory came to Suncorp to try and spoil the party but were blown away in an astonishing first-half. Berisha and Issey Nakajima-Farran scoring doubles in the first 45 in a 4-0 win - the record was theirs.
Welcome back Ange
Before Berisha decided to cross the Brisbane-Melbourne divide, two-time championship–winning coach Ange Postecoglou did the same thing.
And on his first return to Suncorp, Berisha and Co. ensured it wouldn’t be a memorable home-coming for their former mentor.
Determined to show they could perform even without Postecoglou at the helm, the Roar produced a clinical performance, with Berisha getting in on the act nabbing two goals in a 5-0 thrashing of Postecoglou’s Victory.
Going out with a bang
After scoring the goal that got the Roar through to the decider, Berisha was determined to end his time at the club with another championship medal.
It didn’t look like that would happen as Western Sydney Wanderers FC led 1-0 with only a few minutes left in last season’s grand final.
But like he did in the title win two years earlier, Berisha stepped up to save the Roar. He nodded in Thomas Broich’s free-kick to send the decider to extra-time where Henrique’s strike won the championship for the club and ensure a perfect end to Berisha’s time in Brisbane.
Little wonder he shed tears in front of The Den.