'Skippy' relishing new challenge at Inter Milan
ABS-CBN Sports on Feb 10, 2017 09:57 AM
FILE - In this Saturday, Jan. 17, 2015 file photo, Australia's Trent Sainsbury, right, competes for the ball with South Korea's Son Heung Min during their AFC Asia Cup soccer match in Brisbane, Australia. Trent Sainsbury, a 25-year-old defender from Australia, was one the biggest signings in the Serie A on a low-key transfer deadline day on Thursday, Feb. 9, 2017. Few people in Italy had ever heard of him before last week, but he decided to make it easy on his new fans. My nickname is Skippy, Sainsbury said. Like the kangaroo from the television series, of which my old coach in Holland was a fan. (AP Photo/Tertius Pickard)
DANIELLA MATAR, Associated Press
MILAN (AP) — From China to Inter Milan, the man they call "Skippy" is ready to jump into big-time soccer.
Trent Sainsbury, a 25-year-old defender from Australia, was one the biggest signings in the Serie A on a low-key transfer deadline day. Few people in Italy had ever heard of him before last week, but he decided to make it easy on his new fans.
"My nickname is Skippy," Sainsbury said. "Like the kangaroo from the television series, of which my old coach in Holland was a fan."
Sainsbury spent two years in the Netherlands at Zwolle after joining from A-League club Central Coast Mariners in January 2014. However, he was injured on his debut against FC Utrecht after falling on a sprinkler, shattering his kneecap and ruling him out for the rest of the season.
He had a good performance in Zwolle's Super Cup win when he returned, but he was injured on the first day of the season — again against Utrecht.
Sainsbury made a total of 34 appearances for Zwolle before moving to Jiangsu Suning in January 2016.
He was a regular in China but the team decided to loan him out in the hopes of making a big signing because new rules by the Chinese soccer federation limit the number of foreign players in a club.
Inter, which is owned by the same company, needed a replacement for Italy international Andrea Ranocchia, who joined Hull on loan.
"People here are helping me a lot to adjust, which makes it easier coming from such a long way away," Sainsbury said. "Initially, I've been sticking with the players who speak my language like (Ivan) Perisic, (Geoffrey) Kondogbia, Joao Mario and (Yuto) Nagatomo.
"It's an amazing experience so far. I think in a big club such as Inter I've a big responsibility."
Sainsbury has yet to make his debut for Inter, but he is hoping to prove that he is ready.
"I've only just arrived. I'm trying to get used to life first at Inter and then in Italian football in general," said Sainsbury, who celebrates his goals by imitating a kangaroo. "But I want to show my talents, hoping that the coach will choose me.
"The squad is very united. It's exciting to be involved in (Stefano) Pioli's training sessions. I've already seen that the fans are very passionate and view Inter as a big family."
Sainsbury has played 21 times for Australia, scoring three goals, and he believes the experience at Inter will help him on the international front.
"Being at Inter will take my training to another level and keep me sharp and ready for the Socceroos," he said. "It's a lot more tactical and technical (in Italy), plus the quality of the players is a lot higher."