Former AC Milan goalkeeper Zeljko Kalac is excited by Trent Sainsbury’s move to Inter Milan but urged the Socceroos defender not to be overawed by the pressure of playing for one of Serie A’s top clubs.
Sainsbury joined the Italian giants on loan from Chinese Super League outfit Jiangsu Suning until the end of the season in a shock deadline-day transfer earlier this week.
Kalac, who played 38 times for Inter’s bitter rivals, is hopeful the 25-year-old would get his chance to play regularly in the famous black and blue stripes.
But he warned he may endure criticism from big personalities at the club, as well as fan and media base with sky-high expectations.
“You’ve got to be thick-skinned and take the criticism when it’s there,” Kalac told AAP. “It’s going to be there, he’s just got to go out there and perform.
“If he plays well and the crowd and media take to him, he’s going to be loved. If he doesn’t, you can say it was an experience.
“It’s one of the hardest leagues in the world, with the players he’s going to come up against and the expectations of supporters and the media. It’s a country that lives and breathes football.”
Centre-back Sainsbury will join Kalac in an illustrious group of Socceroos to have played in Italy when he makes his debut.
Mark Bresciano played most of his career in Serie A as did Vince Grella and current A-League coaches Paul Okon (Central Coast) and John Aloisi (Brisbane Roar) also enjoyed spells in Italy.
Sainsbury, who started out with the Central Coast where he won the 2012-13 A-League title, could have an early chance to debut.
Italy centre-back Andrea Ranocchia has departed Inter for English club Hull City and his back-up Joao Miranda was sent off in the club’s Italian Cup quarter-final on Wednesday morning (AEDT).
Whether Sainsbury plays or not, Kalac said it would a significant learning experience.
“It’s going to be a massive opportunity for him. He can learn everything there,” Kalac said. “With what you can learn in five months, it might turn into five years for him.
“He just needs to go there with the mindset that ‘I’m as good as these guys.’
“If he doesn’t play, you can only look on the bright side that ‘I gave it everything I had’ and to have the calibre of players that he’s going to work with everyday, you’ll have made it as a footballer.”