Hibs striker Flo Kamberi has revealed how his faith in a leading German specialist allowed him to clinch the winning goal against Kilmarnock.
The Swiss hitman had been forced to miss his club’s previous two games after becoming troubled by fluid in his right knee which had severely restricted his matchday preparations. But he took advantage of the international break to head home and then go to Bavaria for a consultation with orthopaedic specialist Christian Hendrich who had helped him overcome a similar injury in the past.
Advised by two doctors that he required an operation on his left knee, the striker was given Professor Hendrich’s name by his good friend Werner Leuthard who is now the fitness coach at German Bundesliga outfit Eintracht Frankfurt.
Kamberi suffered the injury while playing in Germany for Karlsruhe when on loan from Grasshoppers Zurich and, he admitted, he considered a visit to Hendrich as a last chance to avoid surgery.
The 23-year-old recalled: “I suffered the first injury in December nearly two years ago and I had two doctors against me, telling me I needed and operation although I felt I could move the knee well.
“Werner, who was fitness coach at Basel, is a good friend of mine and he said he knew a professor in Germany so I said I would try it, a last chance.
“He put something in the blood so he could see clearer in the scan and then told me it was not so serious, he said that in four weeks I would be fit – and I was.
“So now any time I have a problem with my knees or hear of someone with a knee problem I say to go and see the professor in Germany, he is the number one.”
Kamberi’s latest problem was caused by a tiny cut within his knee which was causing fluid to gather but Hendrich convinced him that he was fit enough to play. He said: “The professor told me it was not dangerous, that it would heal by itself.
“He took fluid out and put four millilitres of PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma) in. I can still feel the fluid in my knee but the good thing is I cannot make it any worse.
“He told me I could come back, keep an eye on it and hopefully in a few weeks it will be completely gone.”
Kamberi admitted it was important for his own peace of mind to be given that reassuring news after a troubling few weeks.
“I’d been playing (football) with the fluid in my knee and was wondering why it was still there. I wasn’t training every day, just playing, against Astera in Greece and the two Molde games.
“I saw a specialist in Edinburgh and we decided I’d miss the Aberdeen and Livingston games to rest. Then the international break came and when the gaffer said I could go back to Switzerland I phoned the professor because I have a good relationship with him and he is a specialist in this area. I was delighted when he told me to go and see him because I trust 100 per cent what he says. So me, my father and brother drove four hours to go and see him.”
Kamberi returned to action to find himself operating as a lone striker against Kilmarnock as boss Neil Lennon changed to a 4-1-4-1 formation, and it was, he admitted, a tough shift up-front until Australian internationalist Jamie Maclaren, with whom he had formed a formidable strike partnership in the second half of last season, joined him in a twin-pronged attack for the final 18 minutes.
The move paid off almost straight away as Kamberi supplied the pass which led to referee John Beaton awarding a penalty after deciding that Maclaren’s legs had become entangled in those of Killie defender Kirk Broadfoot. And, insisted Kamberi, who had scored from the spot in each of the final two games of last season, there was never any doubt that not only would he be stepping up to take it but that it would end up behind Killie goalkeeper Jamie MacDonald.
He said: “I was delighted to play, every player wants to get over injuries and get back on the pitch. It was my first game in three-and-a-half weeks so it was not so easy. But the longer the game went on, the better I felt.
“When we got the penalty I was 100 per cent fresh. I was tired before but I was absolutely certain I would score it because I am always practising after training.”
After draws against Aberdeen and St Johnstone and that disappointing defeat away to Livingston, Kamberi agreed he and his team-mates badly needed those three points, even if, again, they did it the hard way.
Lennon’s players appeared to be cruising after a stunning Stevie Mallan free-kick and a bullet header from skipper David Gray had put them two up with just 26 minutes on the clock but Eamonn Brophy and Greg Stewart, with equally smart finishes, hauled the Ayrshire club level before the interval.
Kamberi said: “It was a big win having been 2-0 up and then they have two shots and get two goals, two stupid goals from our point of view as we did not get near enough to their players.
“But the effort in the second half was amazing and we deserved to win.”
Lennon, naturally, was delighted to see Kamberi, whose nine goals in 14 matches while on loan from Grasshoppers last season led to him signing on a three-year deal, back to lead the frontline.
He said: “Any good moves came through Flo. He is such an important player for us. It has been a frustrating time for him, as it has been for us, because we missed him, that physical presence.
“That will have given his confidence a shot in the arm, not that he needs it because he is a confident boy, but to go up and take that penalty under pressure speaks volumes. I am delighted and hopefully that is him back up and running.”