Florian Kamberi: Joining Hibs an easy jump from Grasshoppers

Florian Kamberi thought he had put all his troubles behind him when he claimed a hat-trick in only three minutes for Swiss side Grasshoppers Zurich.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 2nd February 2018, 8:45 am
Updated Friday, 2nd February 2018, 8:46 am

But while everyone was telling him “now they have to give you a chance”, the opportunity did not arise.

However, the 22-year-old refused to let his head go down and now he believes his hard work and patience have been rewarded with a move to Hibs, the striker marking his debut with a stunning goal as Neil Lennon’s team tightened their grip on fourth place in the 
Premiership with a win over Motherwell.

It was, he admitted, a tougher 90 minutes than he’d ever endured in Switzerland but a challenge he relished, revealing the more physical nature of the Scottish game actually suits his style of play.

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Florian Kamberi scores against Motherwell

Having started his career with Grasshoppers, Kamberi spent a season on loan with German outfit Karlsruher SC, a move which soon ran into trouble.

“It was a difficult situation because the team was not in good spirits,” he recalled. “We had four coaches and lost many games so it was difficult for a striker to score.

“Then I got a knee injury and was out for four months.”

His luck, however, appeared to have turned in his favour when he returned to Grasshoppers at the beginning of this season, not least the three goals he claimed in a 10-0 rout of fifth division side CS Romontois.

Florian Kamberi scores against Motherwell

He said: “When I came back to Grasshoppers they told me ‘we need you’ and stuff like that so I was very motivated but from the first day I was not given a chance.

“I played in one game, in the cup, like your Scottish Cup, and scored three goals in three minutes. Everybody thought ‘now they have to give you a chance’, but it was not like that.

“I trained hard every day but I did not get a chance. I don’t know what more I could do. Maybe they wanted ten goals in a minute. They weren’t easy months for me but I know that hard works pays off and now I have the opportunity with Hibs.”

Kamberi spent a fortnight training at Hibs’ East Mains base before completing a loan deal until the end of the season, part of the attraction, he revealed, being the opportunity to work under boss Neil Lennon.

He said: “When I heard, especially because Neil Lennon is the manager and he is a legend here, then I was sure I wanted to come.

“I don’t know every step of his career but I know who he is, who he played for and that he was a big player at Celtic and the manager. So, of course, it is always nice for players to work with big managers.

“From the first day it has been perfect. I had a very good feeling and on the pitch it was a perfect night for me. The most important thing was that we won, but it was extra special for me that I scored my first goal.”

Kamberi revealed he’d gone out on Wednesday night with a word of warning from Lennon ringing in his ears. “He said be careful, you will get many tackles,” he said. “You get tackled many times, not like in Switzerland.

“But I knew that because I watch the games on television and I like English football so I know what is going on here.

“Compared to Switzerland, there is more intensity here in Scotland and in the UK, but from the first day I felt very good here. It suits my style of play.”

Kamberi admitted he’s also lapping up the passion of Scottish fans, enjoying the atmosphere of the Scottish Cup derby at Tynecastle and then Celtic Park and he believes such games will bring out the best in him.

He said: “In Zurich, at Grasshoppers, we play in front of 4000 people so even the atmosphere against Motherwell was, for me, very, very crazy. Last season with Karlsruher we had a big atmosphere when we played in front of 58,000 and I am a player who likes to play in front of many people.

“As an away team to go there and show them all what kind of club we are, I like that. So I am looking forward to tomorrow’s match against Rangers at Ibrox.”

While Lennon insisted no-one should be getting carried away by Kamberi’s performance, he did, at least, offer a partial answer to those who were wondering where the goals were going to come with leading scorers Simon Murray and Anthony Stokes both departing on transfer deadline day.

However, claimed Kamberi, that doesn’t place any heavier a burden on his shoulders. He said: “I don’t put myself under any pressure because I know we are a very good team with a lot of quality and everyone in the offense can score.

“So it is not all about me getting goals, we are a very strong team and, if we can continue like this, then we will win many games.”

Although he holds a Swiss passport and is an Under-21 cap, Kamberi’s parents are originally from Kosovo, making the move to their new homeland 30 years ago.

And it is to his father Pashk – “a real Kosovan name, not like Florian” – to whom he owes his career in football.

He said: “It was difficult in Kosovo, there was no money. My father’s brother went to Switzerland and then he went there and they worked very hard to create something for 
us, for his children, in Switzerland.

“It wasn’t easy to come to a new country where you don’t speak the language.

“I have to say a big ‘thank you’ to my parents and my brother, but especially to my father who came to all my games when I was a child and now supports me and calls me every day.”

Joking he probably had five missed calls from his father following his Hibs debut, Kamberi added: “He is my idol. He was a goalkeeper but he did not have opportunities. He has not had it easy, but everything he does has always been for me and my brother.”

Kamberi was adamant it was too early to start talking of extending his stay in Edinburgh beyond the summer or of playing full internationals for Switzerland, but he admitted his ambition is to play in England with Hibs hopefully helping him move in that direction.

He said: “I have played my first game and only been here two weeks so I don’t want to think about what will happen in the future. I only want to think about now, my focus is not on the national team but on Hibs, on working to improve myself and playing as much as possible My dream is to play in England and this is the perfect step.”