What makes Berisha tick

There are players that divide opinion, and then there is Besart Berisha. But why does one of the Hyundai A-League's greatest goalscorers polarise opinion?

There are players that divide opinion, and then there is Albanian sharpshooter Besart Berisha. But why is one of the Hyundai A-League's greatest goalscorers so loathed by fans - except those of his own club?

Other players can go through their career and slip under the radar, not eliciting so much as a hint of derision from the crowd.

Berisha, on the other hand, wears his intense passion for life proudly on his sleeve and as a result he can't even take a touch without being howled down by opposition supporters.

One of the advantages of living a textured life, as Berisha has done, is the things that might knock others off their game are water off a duck's back for him.

But even he sometimes struggles to understand why so many have it in for him.

"Other people who criticise me and don't like me, I think they would like to have me on their team and work hard for them," Berisha said.

"For me, I don't like to listen so much to what people say.

"They must understand one thing about me - I work hard, every single day, every training session, 100 percent. I do what is good for more my club, my team, to win the games."

So far, that's worked an absolute treat for Berisha and Brisbane. First spotted by Rado Vidosic when he was playing for Arminia Bielefeld in Germany, the 27-year-old needed no adjustment period when he came to Australia.

He hit the ground running in his first season and 19 goals later was the competition's golden boot. And, after three in three games to start the new season, he's on course to retain that crown.

Having plied his trade with clubs like Burnley, Hamburg SV and the Albanian national team, Berisha feels part of his success at Brisbane stems from a feeling of belonging in Queensland.

"In Europe, it's about the business. Sometimes I feel that they forget what the real reason to play football is. Many clubs forget this. It's a shame, actually," Berisha said.

"I spoke a lot with Rado and Ange (Postecoglou) before I came. I told them it's not about the money anymore. It's not to play at the biggest clubs.

"I just wanted to come to a club that really looks after the players, their families, and has a good mentality. This club has brought me everything I could ever dream of."

He admits it feels like an honour to put the finishing touches on some of the moves cooked up by the two-time A-League champions. But it's not just his innate ability to hit the back of the net that makes him so valuable, as Berisha's work rate is often underrated.

That combination of scoring nous and work rate has made him the perfect player for a game plan he is quick to credit to former coach Postecoglou.

"He changed and brought something here in Brisbane and achieved something that is really special," Berisha said.

"Brisbane is thankful to have had him here, to have done such an amazing thing. We should never forget that. He was the one who really wanted to play like this."

Berisha was not always earmarked as a striker, though, with his defensive work rate seeing some junior coaches pencil him in for defence. But his father, Selim, insisted he be played as a striker.

"My father was right. Sometimes in the space of a season when I was a junior, I would score maybe 100 goals. There was one year, indoor and outdoor, I scored 103 goals. Every game, three, four, even seven goals. It was crazy," he said.

In the end, the man with the peroxide mohawk fused his ability to sniff out a goal from anywhere with his bottomless petrol tank. Berisha is now a forward who is simultaneously responsible and dangerous.

"Because the way we play, I'm not so much involved (all the time), I try to help (the team) as much as I can. I see a lot of strikers who really just stand and wait for the ball. I don't like that. I'm not that type," he said.

Growing up in a poor family, Berisha didn't watch as much football as other children and never had an out-and-out idol, although there were two players he definitely admired.

The first is Diego Forlan, the former Villareal, Inter Milan, Atletico and Manchester United striker, who is also notorious for pressing like a madman.

The second is Alessandro Del Piero, who he gets to play against on November 16.

"All my family loves him - especially my father, who is a big fan of Juventus," Berisha said. "He is a star, a legend."

But Del Piero's style of play is not the reason why Berisha looks up to him. They also have one particular trait in common.

"He is older but he is still hungry. For me, this is the difference between a good player and a bad player," he said.

"This is something special, and this is why I work so hard. I try to be like this. Nobody should hate that kind of player.

"But in football, it's very normal in the end that (other fans) don't love us. They support their own team, they don't want you to do well. This is normal."

Love him or hate him, you have to respect Besart Berisha.