While their is much more at stake this time, Huddersfield Town midfielder Mooy admits some of the lessons from their Sydney schoolyard days together still ring true in the pressure cooker of the Premier League.
With seven games of the season left Mooy’s Terriers sit in 16th place with 31 points, only three points above the drop zone, while Ryan’s Brighton & Hove Albion are in 13th spot on 34 points. Victory for either team could prove vital in avoiding an immediate return straight back to the Championship.
The pair’s bond goes back all the way to Westfields Sports High School in Fairfield, where the two played in the same school side a decade ago.
Mooy is relishing the chance to face his old classmate again, and admits he hasn’t been surprised by the goalkeeper’s rise to the Premier League because of his determination.
“I’ve known Mat for a long time. He was only small back then as he hadn’t had a growth spurt yet, but he was a good keeper,” he told The World Game.
“He was a year or two under me but still trained with my year. Even back then, he had a drive in him that he still has now.
“The coaching at Westfields was always good and you got extra hours to practice technique and learn about the game than you would at a normal school.
“I would train in the morning before school and after school, sometimes I’d even train after lunch and then go back to class. You can see why so many athletes come from Westfields.”
Harry Kewell, Danny Vukovic, Matthew jurman, Jason Culina, Jacob Burns, Alex Brosque, David Carney, Milos Degenek and Michael Beauchamp are just some of the Socceroos that have come through the famed Westfields production line.
Mooy is still pinching himself that he has made it all the way from Western Sydney to the Premier League, especially as he thought the chance to come to Europe passed him by.
“There were times when I was growing up that I never thought I would get to this level,” the 27-year-old said.
“I thought I was getting too old and things weren’t working out the way I wanted. I knew I just had to keep working and finally it happened.
“There was a time when I was playing in the A-League and I thought I was getting a bit old. Clubs in Europe wouldn’t really be looking at a player who is 25 to bring over as they usually take the younger kids that they can develop.
“I didn’t think I’d be able to get back to Europe – never mind the Premier League. When I was younger in the A-League I still believed I could get back to Europe, and step by step I’ve got as far as I have.”
Mooy hopes the impact he and Ryan have had in the English top flight this season can pave the way for more Aussie talent to make it on the other side of the world.
He feels the creation of the A-League, where the duo cut their teeth with Western Sydney and Central Coast respectively, has been a big help in showing talent.
“It’s always good to see other Australians doing well, there are not that many in the Premier League anymore,” the midfielder said.
“There are good young players coming through and hopefully they can reach this level. Before there were many Australian players that I used to look up and we need to get more players over here.
“That was before the A League started, the A-League’s fairly new and hopefully that can develop. It’s always hard to come through wherever you are but there are always steps you can take.
“Now there is the A-League, which is a professional league where you can make a good living. It’s another step where players can prove they can do it at a professional level.”