Bes says, “I’m back”


The Kosovo international scored his 121st goal in the competition against Brisbane Roar on Friday, extending his lead in the all-time goal chart.

And the 2-0 victory brought about another milestone, with the 34-year-old winning his 100th game in the competition.

It only took Berisha just 195 games to reach the milestone, making him equal second-fastest to reach that tally. After 195 games, only Michael Theo with 103 wins and Ivan Franjic (100 wins) stand alongside the veteran striker.

It’s another feather in the cap of one of the deadliest strikers we’ve witnessed on Australian shores. There’s also the four A-League Championships – two with Roar, two with Melbourne Victory – and a trophy cabinet full of golden boot awards. He’s the all-time top scorer for Roar, as well as Western United (yes, they’ve only played ten games, but he’s already nabbed five for his new club).

For all his successes, maybe Berisha doesn’t get the respect he deserves. After all, he is an easy man to hate.

Always on the edge of the law, always falling down dramatically in search of penalties, always butting heads with opposition players, Berisha inspires ire in the minds of just about every set of opposition fans.

It didn’t take long for A-League viewers to realise the kind of man Berisha is. There was the one-match ban in his first season for a melee with Sydney’s Pascal Bosschaart. There were clashes with teammates, in training and during games. Outbursts at his own coach.

But his own fans were quick to forgive – his goal output ensured that. Opposition fans haven’t been so forgiving.

Perth fans still remember bitterly the 2011/12 Grand Final. A late header, then a controversial penalty converted with the final kick of regular time, and Brisbane lifted the title.

He was at the heart of it in the 2013/14 Grand Final too, equalising against the Wanderers in the 85th minute before Brisbane claimed the title again.

Then he went to Victory, and brought heartbreak to their great rivals Sydney. Remember the 2014-15 Grand Final, when he scored the opener in a 3-0 win? How could they forget!

This season he’s been a thorn in the side of both his former teams. A brace against Victory last week, before sealing the win against Roar this time out. The villain again. But it’s a role he relishes.

“It always motivates me when you see that you’re not loved from away supporters,” he once said.

“That’s very normal. It would be bad if they love you. It will never change. If you’re a player that will score against their team, always you’ll be hated.”

Love him or hate him, there’s no doubt he’s one of the all-time greats. And after a year spent on the sidelines in Japan, he’s back in Australia – and inching closer to his deadliest form.

After the match, an elated Berisha told Fox Sports “I really feel Bes is coming back! It’s great. I am back.”

Back haunting opposition defences. Back pissing off fans. Back niggling opponents, going down easily. And back scoring.

Back being Berisha – the A-League’s greatest striker. We’d do well to remember that.