12 DAVIDSON / 11 SAINSBURY – TURF20 ’14

12. Jason Davidson

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Jason Davidson is another success story coming out of the Victorian Premier League for Hume City. His ventures overseas then saw him eventually arriving in the Netherlands playing for Heracles Almelo. After a standout World Cup performance in Brasil, Davidson has proved himself to be one of Australia’s top defenders.

He’s a left back at heart but can certainly play a versatile role as a center back if required. His athleticism and pace pushing out from the back makes him an attacking threat assisting to the midfield.

Jason played almost every game in the 2013-14 season for Heracles Almelo, stamping his mark in the Socceroos side. Davidson appeared 50 times, scoring two goals and three assists. Postecoglou was left impressed with the youngster after moving him into the left back position for the Socceroos.

Davidson shined as a left back during the World Cup to the delight of his coach. He played in every group game of the World Cup for the Socceroos and is extremely likely to be picked as a starter for the 2015 Asian Cup.

The hard work paid off for the lively defender, his World Cup performances landed him a contract with Premier League side West Bromwich Albion.

Davidson has had some hurdles thrown at him after there were contractual issues with his previous club which delayed him from flying over. It was a setback for the 23 year old as he wasn’t able to train after the World Cup.

Since completing the move to West Brom, Davidson has made five appearances and scored a crucial penalty winner against Oxford to reach the third round of the League Cup.  Davidson was looking to be loaned out but his bad run of luck with clubs haunted him yet again….  

West Brom rejected Reading’s loan offer during the emergency transfer window. This has resulted in Davidson lose his Socceroos starting spot to Aziz Behich due to lack of club game time.

This is only a minor speed hump for Davidson, who has definitely skyrocketed to a new level in his career in 2014. If Davidson can manage to earn game time for the Socceroos in the 2015 Asian Cup, he may find himself starting for West Brom and create another new chapter in his young and exciting career.

11. Trent Sainsbury

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Most of the Australian footballers on this list featured in the Socceroos squad for this year’s World Cup, but not Trent Sainsbury. It’s not that he didn’t deserve to be there – he most certainly did – but a cruel injury kept him out and denied the 22 year old the reward that all footballers crave. 

The Perth-born defender came through the youth ranks of the Glory setup, before moving to the AIS in 2009/10, playing in the National Youth League. It was there that the Central Coast Mariners saw a potential diamond in the rough and plucked the lanky youngster into their squad for the 2010/11 season. He made 9 appearances that year and the same again the next as the over-achieving Mariners won the Premier’s Plate, but it was the 2012/13 season that Sainsbury really came into his own.

Stepping in for the departed club legend and captain Alex Wilkinson, Sainsbury slotted seamlessly alongside Dutch veteran Patrick Zwaanswijk, complementing his power and leadership perfectly with his pace and brilliant reading of the game. Despite his slender frame, Sainsbury more than held his own and was so impressive in his 36 appearances that he was an undisputed selection at the heard of the defence for the A-League team of the year. That same season he came runner-up in the NAB Australian Young Footballer of Year award, as well as winning the CCM club best and fairest in their first ever Championship victory.

His mature and assured performance saw him crop up on the radar for a number of European clubs, and it was midway through the following year when Sainsbury departed the A-League for the Netherlands to join PEC Zwolle, signing a two and a half year deal. He made his Eredivisie debut immediately, but picked up a knee injury under freakish circumstances. Falling on a depressed sprinkler head, Sainsbury fractured his patella and was forced to sit on the sidelines for the remainder of the season, missing PEC’s KNVB Trophy victory over Ajax, as well as the Socceroos squad for Brazil. 

Despite this setback, the defender was able to carry out an uninterrupted preseason and is reaping the rewards presently, helping to keep a clean sheet against Ajax in the 2014 Dutch Supercup final, helping to claim PEC Zwolle’s second ever trophy, and the defender was able to make his green and gold debut in September against World Cup quarter-finalists Belgium. If Sainsbury is able to keep himself fit, the sky is the limit for this young man, excelling amongst Europe’s elite with a maturity belies his tender age.

Words by Ari Charilaou & Nick Leggatt

THE TURF