Sainsbury eyes bright future

From a fringe player to a Socceroos squad call-up, Trent Sainsbury has enjoyed a remarkable year and he hasn't finished yet.

FC Basel-bound Trent Sainsbury is in a good mood on the first day of the Qantas Socceroos camp, and it-s little wonder why.

This time last year he wasn-t a first choice player for Graham Arnold at Central Coast Mariners but in the space of a season he has become a starter, AFC Champions League goal-scorer, Premier, Mariners- Medal winner and soon to be a triallist at a club who are an ever-present fixture in the UEFA Champions League.

Of course that club have been well represented by Australians in the past. Former Socceroos stalwart Scott Chipperfield made a career there, becoming their fifth most capped player and is a club legend.

But for advice on the Swiss club all Sainsbury had to do was turn to Mariners teammate Mile Sterjovski, the experienced winger having spent three seasons at St Jakob Park.

“I have a trial in Basel after the Guangzhou game in China but my first priority is with the Mariners, I am hopefully going to leave straight from Switzerland and give it my all when I get there,” Sainsbury said.

“I spoke to Mile Sterjovski , who spent time there and he gave me lots of good advice, but if I go there I-m going to enjoy the experience and hopefully I like the place. And if nothing comes of it I still have a year on my contract to work on my faults here at the Mariners.”

Those faults weren-t really on display during the last Hyundai A-League season, Sainsbury now one of the competition-s premier defenders and that-s what earned him a call-up to the national team training squad, where he hopes to not only learn from Socceroos skipper Lucas Neill and coach Holger Osieck but to show age is no barrier to his future in the green and gold.

It-s no secret the Socceroos aging defence has been spluttering though World Cup qualifying and with Osieck looking at his options Sainsbury could very much be in the frame for a position, despite just being 21-years-old,

“I think there are younger players that have developed well and are developing well overseas, the likes of (Aaron) Mooy , (Tom) Rogic and James Holland. I think if you-re good enough it doesn-t matter what age you are, you should be playing,” Sainsbury said of the Socceroos.

“I-m here now so I might as well give it my all, sit down with Holger, have a chat and take his advice, treat every minute as a professional because you-re always being watched and judged here.

“I-m just going to try and soak up as much of the atmosphere as I can here, it-s a bit different to club level and you have to try not to tread on people-s toes because they are used to a different team environment, but hopefully I come away with a smile on my face.”

The smile hasn-t actually left Sainsbury-s face since he and his Mariners cohorts took out the grand final over Western Sydney and despite his success he has remained humble about his national squad call-up and upcoming trip to Basel, heaping praise on his club coach and teammates.

“I have to heap a lot of praise on the coaching staff at the club and the playing group because I wouldn-t have been able to get to where I am now without their help and support,” Sainsbury said.

“Arnie just said stay humble, keep working hard, achieve as many goals as possible and then set new ones, while the boys said good luck, don-t forget us and buy us a beer when you-re made of money.”

That cheek that Sainsbury has was evident when he actually got the call from the coach to join the national squad, the laid back West Australian boy believing his club teammates were playing a prank.

“I didn-t believe it to be honest, the number popped up ad I didn-t recognise it, I thought it was one of the boys pranking me, so when it wasn-t one of the boys so I was pretty ecstatic.”