In January 2015 it will be a year since Trent Sainsbury - the dashing defender and 2013 Mariners Medal Winner who was immense in the Club’s 2013 Hyundai A-League Championship triumph – departed the Coast bound for PEC Zwolle of the Dutch Eredivise.
In transit between Holland and Japan where he will link with the Socceroos for their friendly against the Samurai Blue in Osaka on Tuesday 18 November, Sainsbury took the time to write back to our questions for the interest of Central Coast Mariners members and fans.
Sainsbury is one of six former Mariners in Ange Postecoglou’s squad for the Japan friendly, and may be back in Australia in January to represent Australia in the 2015 AFC Asian Cup.
We reckon he will be.
CCMFC: You've started the 2014/15 season strongly after coming back from a freakish knee injury sustained after clattering into a sprinkler head on debut for PEC Zwolle. How does it feel to be back getting regular playing time?
Trent Sainsbury (TS): It's great to be back doing what I love. Injuries are a footballer’s nightmare so just to get back out kicking the ball around is a great feeling.
CCMFC: With all the talent at PEC, how difficult is it to nail down a starting spot?
TS: I knew it would be hard when I left the Coast for many reasons – the players in our squad are extremely talented player but my mentality is to work harder than anyone else, so it helps me progress.
CCMFC: At the time of writing, PEC Zwolle are fourth in the Eredivise behind PSV Eindhoven, Ajax Amsterdam, and Feyenoord. With plenty of the season still to go, what are the goals that have been set by your manager, Ron Jans?
TS: We are a realistic Club but as the season progresses we are growing in confidence and playing some lovely football. We've set the bar high and are aiming for a top six finish.
CCMFC: You got your first taste of European continental football this year, playing the full 90 minutes of both legs of PEC Zwolle’s Europa League Qualifying loss to Sparta Praha from Czech Republic. How was that experience?
TS: It was nice experience despite the outcome. A lot like the A-League Finals Series were you have no choice but to win.
CCMFC: You've been a part of some big footballing moments so far in your career like winning the Hyundai A-League Premiership and Championship, transferring to PEC Zwolle, Europa League games, and, now Socceroos selection. What rates the highest?
TS: All of these moments will be great memories for me to think about when I'm old and grey but that Grand Final win with the Mariners was special. The team and staff we had that year was brilliant. One of the happiest years of my life hands down.
CCMFC: Your debut for the Socceroos had you surrounded by former Mariners teammates. Did that make the transition into camp, and into the match, easier?
TS: Playing for your country is special but doing alongside mates is the cherry on the cake. Obviously them being experienced squad members by this stage helped me a lot when I first came into the camps.
CCMFC: You've experienced the coaching methods of both Holger Osieck through being selected for the EAFF East Asian Cup, and now Ange Postecoglou. What do you feel are the main differences between the two managers?
TS: Holger was very blunt and direct with his team talks and the way he expressed his ideas upon the team but had good qualities, whereas Ange is completely different. He has a very analytical approach where every detail in gone over with a fine tooth comb. His speeches are always positive and he keeps the boys in a good frame of mind.
CCMFC: There are a fair share of people on the outside claiming that the Socceroos are under pressure in the lead up to the AFC Asian Cup on home soil. What’s the feeling among the Socceroos from the inside?
TS: We all know we are under pressure from those who look only at results and not performances. We believe in what Ange is trying to bring into the squad. The team is going to be ready for when it matters. The Australian fans will be our driving force in January and we can't wait to get started.
CCMFC: All the Mariners players are close, so I’ll bet that you’re still keeping an eye on the Club’s performances and remain in touch with former teammates. What are your predictions for the yellow and navy this season?
TS: This season will be tough for the boys. It's a transition year where young boys are coming through and starting to make a stamp on the team. I think they will do what they always do and get into the finals flying under the radar.
CCMFC: Who are you predicting a big season from at the Mariners?
TS: Mitchell Duke is no longer a young boy and needs to start producing the form that resulted in him being selected for the Socceroos – once he scores one or two he will go into double figures. Anthony Caceres will show his class and become the main man in the middle of the park, and also I’d like to see both Storm Roux and Michael Neill have big seasons.
TS: The sneaker shops are everywhere so that's not good for my closet space! The cafe scene isn't the best but all in all it's a beautiful old city with something happening every weekend. The weather could be a touch warmer as well but I'm not here to get a nice tan.
CCMFC: Zwolle is 300kms from Bruges, Belgium and 200kms from Dortmund, Deutschland. Any catch-ups with Maty Ryan or Mustafa Amini yet?
TS: I always see Maty Ryan in Socceroos camp and his banter is as terrible from the first time I met him in the youth team! If Musti pulls his finger out he will be in this squad in the not too distant future. We always keep in touch with our phones though which is nice.