After being frozen out by Swiss club Grasshoppers Zurich, Florian Kamberi has been overwhelmed by the warmth of the welcome he’s been given in Edinburgh.
The 23-year-old swapped the misery of becoming the forgotten man in his homeland for the chance to kick-start his career in Scotland, finding himself an immediate hit with Hibs supporters as Neil Lennon’s side continue to be very much in the race for second place in the Premiership table.
His six goals in eight games has surprised even Lennon, who conceded he was taking something of a gamble on taking Kamberi – who didn’t boast an eye-watering scoring record – on loan until the end of the season.
However, such has been the impact Kamberi – he has yet to lose in a green-and-white shirt – has had, Lennon is now seriously considering activating the Capital club’s option to sign the player on a permanent deal at the end of the season.
Kamberi further endeared himself to the Easter Road support with a hat-trick against Hamilton which hauled Lennon’s side to just a point behind Rangers, the first Hibs player to score three in a top flight match in eight years, Colin Nish having held that title following that unforgettable 6-6 draw with Motherwell at Fir Park.
But as impressive as his stats might be, Kamberi today insisted he can only get better, claiming he and Lennon share a common trait – they are both winners.
Looking back on the reason why he decided to make the move to Scotland, Kamberi said: “I had a difficult season with Grasshoppers, with no reason given as to why I did not play.
“They did things with me that I don’t understand and that were disrespectful against me. They didn’t let me play in friendly matches, they didn’t tell me why I was not playing. Even if you don’t plan to use a player, you should tell them to their face.
“I trained very well and hard, but no reason was ever given to me. But that’s not important, what is important is Hibs and everything is going well with the team.”
Kamberi insisted his painful experience in his hometown had made him mentally stronger, while the belief Lennon displayed in bringing him to the Capital has been reflected in his contribution on the pitch.
He said: “Although I was not playing, I worked hard, did a lot of work by myself and when I came to Hibs Neil Lennon gave me a chance. That was a signal that he wants me and would give me trust. I feel that trust and in every single match I will try to repay that with good performances and goals.
“You feel the gaffer’s presence on the pitch, he gives you a feeling that you are the best on the pitch and for me, that’s important. I hear him all the time – he’s calling ‘well done Flo’, and I like that. His presence and his personality show that he’s a winner and I am also a winner – so it’s perfect.”
Kamberi believes his style of play is well-suited to the British game, Lennon admitting his mobility, physicality, pace a work-rate were attractive attributes but, insisted the striker, the key factor was simply hard work.
“I don’t look to other players for my style,” he said, “I just try to make my own style and that’s why I came to Scotland. I feel like I am a striker made for the UK and at the moment everything is going well. I hope that I, and we as a team, will continue like this.”
While delighted with his hat-trick – the only other time he’d scored three in a match having come in a Swiss Cup game against fifth division minnows CS Romontois – Kamberi insisted success for Hibs rather than personal glory was his goal.
Noting his strikes against Accies had driven Hibs to a fifth top-flight league win in 17 years, he said: “That’s massive for the club.
“Scoring a hat-trick was a crazy feeling. It was my first because I don’t count the one against the small team in Switzerland. It was important we won. Even if we had drawn 3-3 and I scored all three goals, it’s not important. What’s important is that we win.
“It was a good performance. Even after going 1-0 down I thought we reacted well and it was only a question of time until we made it 1-1 and 2-1.”
Although Lennon has stated he’ll consider pursuing the option Hibs have to buy Kamberi in the summer, the player himself refused to look that far ahead.
“Of course, I am happy to be at Hibs,” he said. “I am delighted to be here, but I’m not looking too much to what will happen in the summer. I just look to give my best game-by-game and we will see in some weeks what will happen. But I like it here.”
In the meantime, insisted Kamberi, he’ll simply look to continue to improve. Agreeing he might have scored more against Hamilton, having also hit the post, he said: “I can always do better.
“Even if I score five goals in a game, there are thing I can improve on. I’m not going to go crazy now. I will be the same person as I was before the match, someone who works hard. Hard work pays off so we are focusing on a successful season with the team and going to Ross County on Saturday with confidence. We are in a good position and we need to keep moving forward.”