By Nicholas Galea
Having the right amount of support to achieve your ambitions is just as important as believing in yourself as it not only helps you appreciate the journey but also those who were there every step of the way. Marcus Lentini certainly had that type of support with his parents as they encouraged him to try whatever caught his interest.
‘My parents were pretty chill, if I wanted to play any sport, they’d let me have a shot at it,’ Lentini said.
‘They’re a big support for me, they are always there for the ups and downs, which is a good thing.
If I ever need any honest feedback, I can always go to them that’s for sure.’
A talented youngster, Lentini found sport a natural hobby and started off playing tennis as a child, but soon found the idea of being a part of a team environment a more appealing option and that is what Australian Rules Football provided him.
‘It was playing in a team environment that did it for me, being around all my mates and the boys just really stood out to me,’ he said.
Lentini started off his football journey playing Auskick for a year at Apollos Parkways in Greensborough before he continued his football path with the Diamond Creek Football Club in the Northern Football League.
From there he progressed into the AFL Talent Pathway system, joining the Northern Knights in the TAC Cup for two seasons where he alternated his time as an inside and outside midfielder.
After being overlooked for the 2017 draft Lentini agreed to join the Coburg Football Club seeking consistent game time and greater opportunity to continue his craft as an inside midfielder.
‘The standalone club factor really stood out to me at the time,’ Lentini said.
‘It was probably the best thing for me, being a part of a team environment and being able to train and play with your best mates every single day.’
‘It was also the opportunity to play regularly and not have to worry about the AFL listed players.’
The move back into the midfield has paid off for Lentini as he has led the Victorian Football League for total disposals across both the 2018 and 2019 seasons, highlighting his natural ball winning ability.
Such was his form, Lentini made the VFL Team of the Year in both respective seasons, finished first in Coburg’s best and fairest award in the Jim Sullivan Medal in his maiden season before falling just short the following year, finishing runners up.
The accolades didn’t stop there as the ball winner was named a finalist for the Fothergill-Round-Mitchell Medal for the most promising young player in the VFL in 2019.
‘I was pretty surprised about how I went in my first two seasons; I didn’t expect to come out of the TAC Cup and make an impact like that, I just tried to gain the respect of the boys to start with and just get a game,’ Lentini said.
‘As soon as I got a game I just wanted to try and play as many weeks as I could.’
‘I had some good mates who have helped me through a lot of the way, Luke Bunker has been massive for my development as has Ryan Exon and my coaches in Andrew Sturgess and Leigh Adams as well.’
‘I’m pretty happy with how I’ve gone in my first two year at the club and hopefully I can continue that in the upcoming years.’
Even as such, Lentini feels there is still much more to his game as he continues to chase his ambitions of being drafted into the AFL.
‘I’m just trying to get better every year. There’s a lot of aspects of my game which have improved but there’s still lot more I can improve on,’ he said.
‘Throughout COVID-19 last year there was more spare time so I tried to go the footy ground and practice my kicking under pressure and ball drop a bit more.’
‘Hopefully I can get to the next level but if I don’t then I’m pretty happy the way I am with my best mates here at Coburg.’
‘Hopefully this year I can show that it has improved and have a good season.’
Coming into his fourth season at Coburg, Lentini has thoroughly enjoyed his time at the club but is yet to taste finals football. Although it will be a challenge, he is confident the club is capable of mixing it with the very best.
‘I’ve loved my time at Coburg, the club has been really good to me,’ Lentini said.
‘I’ve really enjoyed the past few years playing here, I’ve got good mates here and I think we’re going to be pretty good in the coming years.’
‘I think we’re going to have a special team this year… There is a positive vibe around the group and “Sturg” has been really good for the boys.’
‘We have really enjoyed it so far, I think we’re going to have a really good season and we’re going to surprise a lot of people.’
‘Everyone wants to play finals and I think if we do by play finals it will be good for us as a club to show how far we’ve come and for a lot of individual players to show recruiters how good we are when there are big stakes on the line like playing for a flag.’
‘Hopefully we go all the way.’
Outside of his football commitments with Coburg, Lentini works as a carpenter with his father at their family business, Lentini Homes and has done so since he finished his schooling at the age of 18, while he has over the past six months been undertaking a certificate IV in Building and Construction course with Builders Academy.
‘I knew what I wanted to do from basically a teenager, I’ve certainly got aspirations to become a builder like dad one day,’ he said.
‘Whenever that time comes that will be the next step in my life’s journey but at the moment, I’m just focused on trying to better myself with footy and see where that can go.’
‘I’m enjoying the journey and enjoying my life… I love working with him, he’s a really good man and we get along really well.’
‘We’re basically best mates.’
As well as spending time and watching Netflix with his girlfriend Olivia and socialising with his friends on the weekend, Lentini intends on fulfilling his ambitions of travelling and seeing where exactly his family name originated from in the streets of Vizzini, Sicily where both his nonna and nonno were born.
‘I’d like to go to Europe, I reckon that’s on the agenda in the coming years and go with my best mates,’ he said.
‘We’re definitely going to go in the coming years but we’ll have to wait and see when that might happen with COVID-19.’
‘Hopefully we can travel soon, it would be really nice but we’ll just have to wait and see.’
‘I’d love to go see where my nonna and nonno were born and see where we would have been if they didn’t come over.’
Lentini describes himself as somewhat reserved and one who enjoys the company of his friends.
‘I reckon I’m pretty laid back and can have a laugh, I’m a pretty chill person that can have a good time with the boys and just go with the flow.’