‘Snake’ taunts inspiring star Sydney recruit
Kosta Barbarouses has been copping it "non-stop" from Melbourne Victory fans ever since his off-season move to Sydney FC, mostly harmless banter branding him a snake, but occasionally vitriol so bad he hasn't shown his family.
Sunday at Jubilee Stadium will mark Barbarouses' first game against his former club in a Sky Blues shirt, and his first back at the scene of Victory's darkest hour when they were slaughtered 6-1 in a semi-final by Sydney FC in May.
This time the Kiwi striker is in the other camp, having done the unthinkable in the eyes of the navy-blue faithful who cheered his name over half a decade and two A-League titles.
A short stint with Wellington Phoenix was one thing; Sydney is another entirely.
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Now the cheers are replaced by social-media jeers, references to 'Kosta the Cobra' and so many snake emojis even his teammates got in on the act.
"Every photo I've put on it's the main emoji or word being used," Barbarouses told The Daily Telegraph.
"The boys have jumped on it too and put the snakes on my photos too. It's become a bit of a joke in the club.
"A lot of it is banter and just people jumping on what other people are saying. I don't know how much people actually really mean what they say.
"I understand both sides of it. A lot of people are angry or frustrated that I've moved on, but there's still a lot of people who appreciate what I did for the club for five years. Like anything, you take the good with the bad.
"There's been a few pretty bad ones, but you just ignore that stuff and move on. You can't really dwell on it too much.
"I don't want to share them, there was some personal stuff. I can brush it off. I think maybe if my family read some of it they might be more upset than me, but I'm pretty strong mentally and pretty good at letting things go."
Barbarouses employed a similar mentality throughout an early season goal drought he finally snapped a fortnight ago with a maiden club goal the 29-year-old hopes will open the floodgates on another prolific season.
Baby daughter Lola was in the Leichhardt Oval stands for that deft finish against Newcastle, and has been labelled dad's lucky charm by coach Steve Corica.
"She won't miss a game," Barbarouses said.
"As long as she behaves for mum."
As for Victory, he knows that, even with a depleted travelling squad under a new manager in Marco Kurz, the old enemy will want vengeance for happened in May.
"It (6-1) looks horrendous on paper and it's something everyone who was involved with it has to live with," Barbarouses said.
"But I would have much rather fought for a spot in the grand final than just laid down and taken a 3-0 defeat.
"It was pretty quiet in the changeroom. There were no right words to make anybody feel better.
"So that semi-final result, along with the way Victory's season has started, they'll be desperate for a result.
"That makes them even more dangerous because they'll be really hungry to get one over us."