BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
FLORIAN KAMBERI grew up dreaming of emulating iconic duo Ronaldinho and Cristiano Ronaldo – however the Hibs striker insists his father is his real idol.
The 22-year-old last night revealed how his dad, Pashk, fled the poverty and tumult of life in the troubled nation of Kosovo, crossing the border to Switzerland in search of opportunities and a more prosperous surroundings for his family.
Florian was subsequently born in Zurich but is acutely aware of the sacrifices made by his parents.
As well as working his fingers to the bone to create a new life in a new country, Pashk – a promising goalkeeper in his own right as a younger man – was a constant source of support to Florian as he climbed through the youth ranks at Grasshoppers.
Although he was unable to attend his boy’s debut in Edinburgh on Tuesday, Kamberi knows his phone will have been ringing off the hook with his proud dad desperate to hear about his maiden goal for the Hibees in the 2-1 win over Motherwell.
Kamberi said: “It was difficult for my parents in Kosovo. There was no money and his brother went to Switzerland first, then my father went there and they worked very hard to create something for us every day, to create something for his children.
“It has not been easy. It has been hard work for his whole life.
“It is difficult to go 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.
“He probably called me five times after the Motherwell match and will wonder why I did not answer straight away! He is my idol. He has not had an easy life but everything he does has always been for me and for my brother.”
While the stakes are not comparable with his father’s life-changing decision to emigrate, Kamberi admits he has made a momentous decision of his own by choosing to leave the relative security of Swiss football for the rough-and-tumble of the SPFL.
A knee injury badly affected a loan spell with Bundesliga 2. outfit Karlsruher last season and, despite promises to the contrary, he has not been give a chance to shine for Grasshoppers this term, leaving the youngster visibly frustrated.
And Kamberi hopeful the switch to the Premiership could prove to be the shot in the arm his career needs and the catalyst for a switch to English football, a career goal for the ex-Switzerland under-21 internationalist.
He continued: “Maybe I didn’t have the luck in Switzerland – I don’t know why. I always do my best in training to show the coaches that I want to play but Grasshoppers didn’t give me a chance. I had to seriously change something.
“I’m a player whose dream is to play in England and this is the perfect step, to try to improve myself and the team, and with this manager I hope we can do this and continue to win many games as a team.”
Indeed, the final straw at Grasshoppers came in August when Kamberi netted a record-breaking hat-trick in the Swiss Cup against CS Romontois – in the space of three minutes. He was back on the bench for their next fixture.
Kamberi laughed: I don’t know what more I could do. Maybe they wanted 10 goals in one minute.”
As Kamberi attempts to catch the eye of potential suitors, there is no better place to do it that Ibrox this Saturday. He was in the crowd when Hibs travelled to Tynecastle and Celtic Park recently and admits those electric occasions have whetted his appetite to stun Rangers.
Kamberi added: “These are the games that you want to play in. These are the reason we play. There is no pressure, we are more confident and it will be easy to just go there and play our football. We know we can beat them so there is no pressure on us.
“I was at the Celtic and Hearts games and I love to play in an atmosphere like that. In Zurich, at Grasshoppers, we play in front of 4000 people so even the atmosphere at Easter Road, for me, was very, very crazy compared to what I am used to.
“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 very excited and looking forward to the Rangers game.”