Melbourne has a new Berisha in the city.
Eight years after Besart Berisha arrived in Melbourne and a year after he departed as the A-League’s greatest goalscorer ever (142 goals), fellow Kosovo international Valon Berisha, 29, has been signed as Melbourne City’s star recruit.
The latest Berisha has a bigger global profile than his namesake, who signed for Ange Postecoglou’s Brisbane Roar in 2011 as an unknown European journeyman – although he departed as the second best in Australian football history behind Damian Mori (240).
Valon Berisha, who’s signed on loan from French top flight club Stade Reims, has played for Serie A side Lazio, Bundesliga club Fortuna Dusseldorf and Austrian giants Red Bull Salzburg.
Ex-Portugal and Manchester United star Luis Nani (Melbourne Victory) and ex-Southampton striker Charlie Austin (Brisbane Roar) have been the ‘marquee’ off-season signings, but Berisha 2.0 warrants being in the same conversation
The box-to-box midfielder declared he was here to make an impact.
“I hate to lose. It sticks with you. I’m never satisfied, I always want to win, even in training. That’s what keeps me going,” Berisha said.
“That’s pushed me since I was young – I’ve won a lot in my career, that’s what I train and make sacrifices for. It’s all about winning. So City fans can expect a winning mentality.
“When you come from a country like (war-torn) Kosovo and what they went through – when I was younger, I didn’t have a lot.
“Dad was always pushing me, even when I was doing well, it was always about winning the next one.”
The midfielder is ready for Friday’s debut, the grand final replay with Western United at AAMI Park and he’s heard all about last May’s heartache.
City, who tried to sign Besart Berisha in 2019 before he joined Western United, will add the box-to-box midfielder to their star-studded front half, which includes Socceroos-capped quarter Jamie Maclaren, Mathew Leckie, Marco Tilio and Andrew Nabbout.
Valon in fact learnt of the A-League via Besart, who left Western United a year ago after two seasons with them, after a fruitful four years at Victory.
“I know Besart was here for many years and had a top career here – lots of goals, history. Good on him. It makes me proud. He is Albanian like me, and it’s great to have Albanian representation in other countries,” he said.
“I’m in different position, also he was here 11 years. I’m not going to put (pressure) on myself to do better, most important for me is to be a big part of the team and help them win and be champions.
“I didn’t know too much about the A-League before. But Besart told me about it in the national team, said it was a very good league and great country. Melbourne is a nice city.”
THE NEW BERISHA
VALON BERISHA FAST FACTS
– Berisha debuted for Norway in 2012 and won 20 caps
– Switched to Kosovo in 2016 (scored four goals in 26 games since)
– Won five league titles and four cups
– Lazio bought him for $12m in 2018
Originally published as A-League season 2022-23: Valon Berisha out to emulate famous namesake at Melbourne City