It may have taken a little bit longer than many expected, but centre-back Trent Sainsbury is finally a Caltex Socceroos leader.
To look at the classy, elegant defender now, it’s impossible to imagine there was any ever doubt over his international career.
But he was cut by national coach Holger Osieck, who had called a then 19-year-old Sainsbury into camp ahead of Australia’s World Cup qualifiers in 2013.
He was too laid-back.
RELAXED AUSSIE ATTITUDE STYMIES STAR DEFENDER’S RISE
“My coach Kenny Lowe told me when I was younger that I would struggle if I ever went on trial at an overseas club,” Sainsbury revealed to www.socceroos.com.au.
“He said that was because, one; you’re an Aussie, two; you’re extremely laid-back and three; your laid-back attitude makes it look like you don’t care.
“I found that to be true at the places I did go on trial.
“When I went to the Mariners, Arnie (Graham Arnold) tried to snap me out of that mindset, but it’s hard to change who you are naturally.
“Holger didn’t really get to know me that well and it’s done and dusted now but it would have been nice to get capped a little bit earlier,” admitted Sainsbury.
SAINSO’S ROAD TO SENIOR SOCCEROOS STATUS
Ange Postecoglou looked past his relaxed demeanor and handed Sainsbury a senior debut in Australia’s first game after the 2014 World Cup, a friendly against Belgium.
Since then, he’s been a regular in the side – including playing every minute at the 2015 Asian Cup – and racking up 26 caps as well as securing a dream move to Italian giants Inter Milan.
That experience has seen Sainsbury assume greater on-field obligations.
“To have the responsibility of being one of the leaders of the defence puts a bit of pressure on your shoulders, but it only makes you perform better,” he said.
“Obviously we haven’t got the most experienced defence in the world but that hasn’t stopped us in the games we’ve played together.
“As a footballer you just want to play for your country as many times as possible and put on a good show.
“As a nation, if we want to progress as footballers, we have to win your personal battles out on the pitch.
“You want to come up against the best and see where you’re at.
“At the same time, you have to enjoy the experience because you’re not going to be a footballer forever,” he added.
THE BOY WON’T CHANGE
And where does his laid-back manner stem from?
“I just try to stay as calm as possible,” shrugged Sainsbury.
“That’s just the way I’ve been brought up, I guess.
“At the end of the day, it’s just a football match.
“You’re living and breathing, so how bad can it be?”