Pair of A-Leagues legends fuelling Besart Berisha’s own coaching dream: ‘He got even better’

Besart Berisha speaks about his journey from a player in the A-Leagues to his ambitions as a coach.

Besart Berisha, who terrorised A-Leagues defences, is soaking up lessons everywhere as he starts his own coaching journey.

More than 12 years after his football career – and arguably his whole life – was changed by Ange Postecoglou, Besart Berisha has detailed how the Tottenham boss has inspired his determination to become a top coach himself.

Hailing the way Postecoglou has changed perceptions of Australian football in Europe, Berisha – whose 142 goals left an indelible mark on the A-Leagues – confirmed his desire to pursue his coaching ambitions back in the competition where Postecoglou once helped him “love the game again”.

Berisha also revealed why he had spent time in Japan studying the methods of Kevin Muscat at Yokohama F.Marinos, having lapped up Muscat’s coaching as a player at Melbourne Victory.

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A multiple A-League title winner with Brisbane and Victory in an Australian stint that comprised more than half of his professional career, Berisha told that Postecoglou’s success was entirely predictable – even though he had been seen in Europe as a “new, fresh coach” despite 20 years’ experience.

Berisha with Ange Postecoglou in October 2011.

“For me, it was not a surprise that he’s where he is now and what he’s doing, because I always believed he is a very special coach,” said Berisha whose career was languishing in Germany when Postecoglou signed him for Brisbane in 2011.

“Just the way he is as a coach, you know, man to man, the way he is (and) with the knowledge (he has), the way he is with the players, it’s just amazing. Players want to do everything to win for him.”

Berisha has watched Postecoglou’s exploits at both Celtic and now Tottenham as the former Isuzu UTE A-League Golden Boot winner has worked through his own UEFA coaching badges, and recognises the player-management techniques that persuaded him to trade Germany for Queensland in his mid-20s.

“It’s very, very interesting – I mentioned many times that I didn’t enjoy football in Europe,” he said. “Ange make me love the game again and that’s his skills of player management.

“So it doesn’t surprise me where he is. I’m really grateful that Ange make this step and just show that we have great coaches in Asia and in Australia.

“Because many (have a) European mentality in football, they don’t know that well Australia and the mentality of football here.

“They are still considering him as a new fresh coach, but he is so long in this game, (he has) so much knowledge, so much experience as a coach.

“He had so, so much success already, but I’m happy that he put us out there and he put Australia (on) the map there and everybody now speaks about us.”

The use of “us” underlines how much Berisha wants to return to Australia and seek a coaching role in the A-Leagues. To that end he was in Yokahama recently to see Muscat.

“I said to myself, if I don’t work or have a job as a coach, I want to travel, I want to see coaches, visit clubs and see what can I learn,” he said.

“The time with Kevin, I’m really grateful it happened because I saw some really great information I can take.

“I think Kevin is an amazing coach and I feel like he got even better the way I know him from Victory.

“I have a feeling, he is probably the next one after Ange, he’s going to go to Europe and have a great coaching career.

“He is very ambitious and he wants to achieve a lot. When I met him the first time at Victory, I could really sense it as a player.

“I was myself very hungry of achieving and creating history with the club and this is what I saw in him. He was so hungry to achieve history, to work hard and he had a plan, he had the desire.

“I loved every moment of it because I felt really good working under him. The way he worked and his desire, his winning mentality was kind of fitting with me in my mentality.”

All of which feeds into Berisha’s aim to join the coaching carousel himself and try to emulate the paths of Postecoglou and Muscat.

“Oh look, I am ready. I’m ready,” he said. “I’ve been too long away from the game and I’m ready to do that.

“Obviously it’s about the right opportunity to get and the right project but I’m ready. I worked really hard the last three years to become a good coach and playing 18 years myself as a footballer, having this bit of knowledge helped me a lot and I hope I can one day, come back to Australia and be a good coach.

“As a coach, I want to play a lot with the ball, mostly attacking football. I want to score goals.

“I always wanted to be a coach. Playing 18 years, I had a lot of coaches and so much knowledge (from) meeting coaches and the way they coached teams.

“I always told myself that I have to use this information and try one day to become a good coach.”