'I fell in love with football again': Kenny Lowe's advice that helped save Sainsbury's career

Since 2017, Trent Sainsbury has played club football in China, Italy, Switzerland, Netherlands, Israel and now Belgium. 

But back when he was a young aspiring footballer in Western Australia, the Socceroos defender came so close to giving it all up. 

It took a last-ditch effort from his first professional coach Kenny Lowe to reignite Sainsbury's passion for the game before it was too late. 

LISTEN: Socceroos Podcast | Trent Sainsbury 

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Speaking on The Socceroos Podcast, the Australian defender shared how his footballing journey has helped put life into perspective and with a second child on the way, how he has managed to balance family with his commitments as a professional footballer. 

When asked about the best piece of advice he has received, Sainsbury opened up on an exchange with Lowe that resonates to this day. 

"I think it goes back to one of the simplest of things: 'if you don't enjoy doing it then it's not for you'," he tells The Socceroos Podcast

"I've taken that on board from Kenny Lowe when back in the day I was thinking about finishing up trying to become a professional footballer.'

Socceroos defender Trent Sainsbury is photographed during a team portrait session.

"When I was 14 or 15 he brought me in and said,'just come down and have a couple training sessions with me and the boys.'

He said to me,' you have just got to find that love of the game again. There's no pressure, just try and be the best person and the best footballer you can be.' And that gave it back to me.

"I really wasn't going to, but my dad said ‘just go down, have a look, enjoy it and see what happens’, and that was sort of when I kind of fell in love with football again and wanted to become super competitive at it."

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As the old cliche goes, for Sainsbury, the rest is history.

A meteoric rise with the Central Coast Mariners saw him win an A-League Championship before heading abroad in 2014 - the same year he made his Socceroos debut.  

The Perth-born stopper has faced questions regarding his naturally laid-back attitude over the years, but in response, Lowe's advice continues to ring true. 

"When I did get that that contract at Central Coast Mariners I think a few people kind of looked at me and said, 'you're a bit nonchalant'- but that's just me," Sainsbury reflects. 

"It's worked against me quite a few times in my early parts of my career and later in my career as well, but at the same time I love the game, I just want to enjoy the game and when I get on the pitch I'm as serious as anyone else.

I think I don't do it as a job, now I do it as a hobby." 

WATCH: Generations of Australians: The Sainsburys

With that motivation in mind, Sainsbury explained the on and off-field reasons for his recent move to Belgian Pro League club Kortrijk. 

"Kortrijk was more of a move to just try and get match minutes, but also as for my family," he shares. 

"My wife and I are expecting a second child now in early April, so it was more of a get the family into a environment where they can be most settled and thrive. My family's happy so for me that's enough at the moment." 

When it comes to setting goals moving forward, Sainsbury is no longer a starry-eyed young player with his sights fixated on the top.

Rather, he is focused on enjoying the moment, approaching each game in isolation with an immediate focus on building up fitness and form to ensure he is in top condition when the Socceroos finally return to action. 

"I'm not looking too far ahead," he admits. "I've done that in the past and I thought I'd remain at one club one or two clubs pretty much my whole career and look how that turned out.

I know with football you just cannot predict the future so I'm looking now just in the short term and that's getting back with the national team and playing games here my club." 

Trent Sainsbury

Despite this emphasis on short term goals, Sainsbury does have one special dream in mind for the twilight years of his career - involving a homecoming to his grassroots club. 

"Honestly I've spoken to the wife about this," he reveals,"I said, once I’ve retired from professional football and go back to the State League game, I'd love to go and spend a season back in Armadale.

"To try and bring in as many of my Socceroo mates as possible and win the FFA Cup, that'd be the ideal dream but I’d definitely just love to play in front of my friends and family.

"I grew up supporting that club and my dad and his mates have been there since day one supporting it, so that's one of the things I'd like to do when I finish my career off." 


As a senior member of the Socceroos squad, Sainsbury still has plenty of years ahead before having to consider that possibility. 

He has impressed in Belgium after recovering from an injury which kept him out of action over the New Year and was recently named Man of the Match after scoring and keeping a clean sheet for Kortrijk in a 2-0 win over Anderlecht.