Trent Sainsbury says South Korea's wild celebrations fired up Australia heading into extra-time in the Asian Cup final, prompting coach Ange Postecoglou to issue a crucial rallying cry.
Son Heung-min's 91st-minute equaliser forced an additional 30 minutes at Stadium Australia, James Troisi restoring the Socceroos lead and ultimately sealing victory for the tournament hosts.
"He (Postecoglou) said, 'we're not losing'," Sainsbury told reporters after the memorable win.
"They've just come from behind and they think they've won it. They were celebrating like they've won it."
“It was pretty heartbreaking,” Sainsbury added of the equaliser.
“But at the same time it created a bigger spectacle for football in Australia and Asia.
“We just had to regroup.
“They made some substitutions but they couldn’t reshape after that so we took advantage.”
Sainsbury, awarded the man of the match for another composed performance in central defence, said playing at home in front of a vocal home support was key.
“It’s a massive relief – there was a lot of weight on Australian players' shoulders today. And the crowd got us over the line I think."
As for the individual accolade, he said: “It’s a nice personal touch but I wouldn’t be able to do it without the boys around me. We’re a unit, we’re a family so I can’t thank them enough.”
Sainsbury, who plays for PEC Zwolle in the Dutch Eredivisie, has enjoyed an outstanding tournament.
His reading of the game and distribution have been excellent at centre-back and he even weighed in with a goal in the semi-final win over the United Arab Emirates.
“I’d like to think so but at the same time Ange always impresses the fact that you never know when your last game of your country is going to be," he added when asked if he has made a starting role at the back his own moving forward.
“So you have to give 100 percent and that’s what the boys did today."
And like goalkeeper Mathew Ryan, the late equaliser brought back some stinging memories for former Gosford stalwart Sainsbury.
“It was like Central Coast Mariners versus Brisbane Roar all over the again,” he said with a laugh, referring to the infamous 2011 A-League Grand Final comeback victory for Roar, coached that day by Ange Postecoglou.