Besart Berisha says he “smashed” up the Victory change room in frustration before emerging to score the winner in the A-League Melbourne derby.
Berisha netted a 78th-minute goal to win a classic for Victory over Melbourne City in a 2-1 comeback triumph at AAMI Park.
Tim Cahill had put City ahead before Marco Rojas tied up the match heading into half-time.
As he has done so many times before, Berisha stepped up on the big stage to find a winner.
But he says doubts crept into his head during the half-time break.
“I had a couple of chances in the beginning and I thought, ‘Oh my God, I’m not going to score any more. What is going on?’,” Berisha said.
“I was very emotional coming into this game. We had lost the last two (derbies).
“I was very angry. I went inside and smashed everything around.
“I motivated myself. I tell myself, ‘one more chance you’re going to get and you’ve gotta be there’.
“In the end I’m very happy that I scored the winner.”
The goal was his eighth in Melbourne derbies – a record – and drew the 31-year-old level with Archie Thompson as the A-League’s all-time leading scorer.
Late into the change rooms, Victory coach Kevin Muscat did not see Berisha’s destruction but he will be asking some questions of his star forward.
“If he did smash anything he’ll be replacing it himself, I can guarantee you that,” he said.
Berisha’s self belief ‘unmatched’ in A-League
Muscat says Berisha’s focus on the task at hand during a match is unrivalled in the A-League.
“I asked him to maintain his composure and keep getting in goal scoring positions. He said ‘I’ll score in the second half’,” he said.
“The self belief that he’s got is unmatched in anything I’ve seen in this country.”
There was a hint of offside about the goal but no one in the City camp was complaining – a sign perhaps that the result was a deserved one.
The win was Victory’s first derby success in five matches dating to October 2015.
Berisha says he is delighted to help end Victory’s derby drought.
“I’m so grateful that I scored in the end to bring the three points home for the boys,” he said.
“This means a lot to our supporters, to our club. I dedicate this game to the supporters. They are amazing.”