Berisha’s defining Hyundai A-League moments ahead of game 200

When you are talking about players who have become legends of the Hyundai A-League, Besart Berisha has to be at the forefront of the conversation.

His list of achievements since moving to Australia for the 2011/12 Season are extensive, winning four Championships, two Premierships and an FFA Cup title to go with his phenomenal goal-scoring record.

Berisha lives for finding the back of the net and he remains the only man to have reached the century mark in the Hyundai A-League and is the competition’s greatest-ever scorer with 124 goals to his name.

And the 34-year-old will achieve another milestone on Sunday when he runs out for his 200th game in the Hyundai A-League when Western United FC host Adelaide United.

Ahead of what will be a day of celebration at Whitten Oval, we look back at five of Berisha’s defining moments in his epic 199-game Hyundai A-League career so far.

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Making history with Western United FC

Sunday, October 13 was an historic day as the Hyundai A-League’s newest club played their first match in the competition, away against Wellington Phoenix.

And given his penchant for delivering on the big occasion, it was almost written in the stars Berisha would steal the headlines.

Berisha proved to be the match-winner, scoring United’s very first – and his 117th – Hyundai A-League goal to hand Mark Rudan’s men a 1-0 win and give them a dream start in the competition.

The goal was brilliantly constructed too as Connor Pain's cross was pinged back into the centre by Josh Risdon, leaving Berisha to pounce from underneath the crossbar.

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Grand Final double to break Perth hearts

Death, taxes and Berisha coming up with the big-match heroics.

The league's all-time top scorer earned an infamous reputation for decisive goals across his seven-season tenure in Australia. Exhibit A? The 2012 Grand Final against Perth Glory.

With Ange Postecoglou's Brisbane trailing 1-0 late on, Berisha buried a trademark glancing header in the 84th minute to pull level, and kept his cool from the penalty spot to win Roar the Championship with the final kick off the match.

That last-ditch spot kick - which Berisha controversially won himself - would typify his standing as the ultimate anti-hero.

Clutch Grand Final header against Wanderers

Two years later, it was the hearts of Western Sydney Wanderers that were shattered by Berisha's brilliance.

And it was another ferociously dispatched header - this time from a Thomas Broich cross in the 86th minute - that hauled the Roar level with the Red and Black at Suncorp Stadium.

The Wanderers had defended stoutly, but the fact it was Berisha with the breakthrough almost seemed inevitable. It was sheer testament to the striker's ability to produce moments of magic. 

Fittingly, it was Berisha's 48th and last goal for the Queenslanders. Roar sealed the Grand Final through Henrique, and Berisha sought a new challenge with Melbourne Victory.

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Adelaide acrobatics

Incredibly, with the score against Adelaide United locked at 1-1 in the dying minutes of 2018's Elimination Final, it appeared Victory coach Kevin Muscat was preparing to substitute Berisha as extra time loomed.

The Hyundai A-League's perennial headline writer had other ideas.

In the 89th minute, Berisha spectacularly fired in an acrobatic overhead winner from Kosta Barbarouses' cross which crept inside the post and won the match for Victory.

The club went on the seal their fourth Championship with a 1-0 win against Newcastle Jets in the Grand Final. How different things might have been had Muscat acted quicker?

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Besart Berisha

Bes brings up his hundred

Having become the competition’s greatest-ever scorer during the 2016/17 Season – moving past Shane Smeltz’s tally of 92 – all eyes were on when Berisha would get to the magical 100 mark.

And that memorable moment came in the Round 27 clash against Central Coast Mariners at AAMI Park.

And it was a typical Berisha predators goal. Mitch Austin’s cross into the box was played back to Berisha by Jai Ingham and he lashed it home before almost collapsing in tears at the relief and joy of reaching the milestone.

He’s gone on to add another 24 to his tally for both Victory and Western United FC to become the sixth all-time highest scorer in Australian National League history.

Will he add to his tally in game 200 on Sunday?

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