Kurtisi: Give me Berisha’s shirt

Mike Mulvey says Mensur Kurtisi isn’t expected to replace Besart Berisha but the new Brisbane Roar striker has other ideas, requesting to wear the departed goal-machine’s number seven shirt.

The signing of 28-year-old Kurtisi was confirmed this week, with the two-cap Macedonia international meeting his Suncorp Stadium team-mates before he returns to Europe to get married.

Sharing Albanian heritage with Berisha, who left for Melbourne Victory at the end of last season, the new man is certain to be measured against the A-League title-winning marksman.

And although Roar coach Mulvey sought to suppress those inevitable comparisons, Kurtisi himself has apparently embraced the challenge of shouldering the goal-scoring burden.

“Besart will be welcomed with open arms when he comes and visits back here,” Mulvey told Fox Sports.

“He’ll be on the opposition team obviously. It’s not a question of filling his shoes, but Mensur, in typical European bravado, he’s said ‘I want the number seven shirt.’

“So he’s put himself in the spotlight so to speak. But we’ll be giving him every support we can to help him succeed. We’ve got a lot of good players around him that can create opportunities for him. 

“So if he can find the back of the net, or help some of our other players find the back of the net, it’ll be good business from our point of view.”

According to Mulvey, Roar opted to move for Kurtishi ahead of several other potential new signings 

“I went overseas, I met up with a number of players in Europe,” he said.

“It’s always difficult trying to bring people from that side of the world over to here. You’ve got to make sure everything fits. They’ve got to be the right character to fit in with our squad and our culture. 

“When I got back there was plenty more across my desk. So we settled on Mensur. We’ve brought him across. We’re a great believer in trying to do our research very well and do our due diligence to make sure that we bring a quality player in, not only that’s going to fit in to our style of play but also the club culture.”

Kurtishi will join Roar’s pre-season training in August and could yet be involved in the FFA Cup round of 32, as well as the champions’ participation in the Townsville Football Cup.

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