Freak moment in Sainsbury's European debut that almost ended his career
Socceroos defender Trent Sainsbury shared his gut wrenching story about his first experience moving abroad to play in Europe in an Instagram Live video with fellow Australian defender Aziz Behich.
A 22-year-old Sainsbury got his first taste of European football when he departed the Central Coast Mariners for Dutch Eredivisie outfit PEC Zwolle in January 2014.
He could not have asked for a better way to start his European career after he was placed in the starting line-up for his new side upon his arrival in the Netherlands.
However, it turned out to be a bitter sweet debut when he stumbled upon a sprinkler on the pitch towards the end of the match and suffered a season ending injury which ultimately put a grind to the beginning of his European adventure.
“My experience was horrible. I’m not going to lie; I didn’t have the best start. I broke my kneecap on a sprinkler in the middle of the pitch,” Sainsbury said in the Instagram Live.
Watch the full Instagram Live conversation in the video at the top!
The freak injury placed a massive cloud over the defender’s future and led to him briefly tossing up a potential career change.
“I pretty much started looking online for TAFE courses because I thought my career was finished,” he said.
“That took me nine months to come back from.
“The only thing that I can really say to my wife, she was my girlfriend at the time is that she kept me together because I was falling apart mentally, physically and emotionally.
“I worked so hard to get overseas then all of a sudden it’s taken away from you just like that.”
Many young Aussies who decide to take the leap of faith and venture to Europe are often forced to cope with a host of difficult circumstances.
For Behich, it was no different as he recalls what it was like when he first sealed his dream move to Turkey, signing with Bursaspor in January 2013.
“It was difficult, it was the first time I’d moved out of home. It happened really quick; it was Bursaspor at the time. I signed on the last day of the winter break,” Behich said.
“The first six months I had to say were pretty much hell. I had to train on my own, a new coach had come in and didn’t want me to be a part of the squad at the time for whatever reason, I still don’t know to this day.”
Behich’s dream move stalled and he took the decision to return to Australia and re-join his former side.
“I made the choice to come to Melbourne Heart for a season on-loan because I missed playing football for six months,” Behich said.
“I thought at that stage in my career, I was still young, and I needed to be playing football.
“That was a great move.”
At 29 years old, Behich has become a mainstay in the Socceroos camp while still plying his trade in Turkey.
The Melbourne born defender believes that the A-League is the perfect breeding ground for young footballers looking to gain experience.
“I think a lot of players try to skip the A-League and say that the A-League isn’t good, but I think it’s a good stepping stone to understanding the professional environment and how it all works,” he said.
“Once you come to Europe it’s more cut-throat. You either take your chances or you don’t because there’s a lot of players in squads, in the same positions.
“People don’t realise how hard it is.”
In regard to some of the challenges that Aussies face when settling in Europe, Sainsbury added: “People don’t understand how hard it is also leaving your family and friends behind and then come to a country where you don’t necessarily speak the language.”
For now, the pair are raring to return to the pitch, as Sainsbury’s Maccabi Haifa resume their campaign on May 30 while Behich will have to wait a bit longer with his Istanbul Basaksehir side set to restart their season on June 12.
To check out Sainsbury and Behich’s full chat, watch the video at the top of the page.
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