The ex-Sydney FC goalkeeper is keeping the recent Aussie tradition at Genk alive and well, after Ryan’s successive loan spell there last year, and previous heroics with Club Brugge.
He’s already succeeded where Ryan came up just short by this week helping his Pro League club to the Belgian Cup final, after Ryan was a semi-final loser last season.
He’s missed just a single league game, keeping seven clean sheets from 24 appearances for the sixth-placed club.
In a FIFA World Cup year, Vukovic, who turns 33 next month, is making all the right moves to cement a spot in Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk’s squad for the Big Show.
He’s clearly behind reigning number one and new EPL star Ryan, but probably ahead of J.League-based Mitch Langerak and the long ignored Brad Jones.
“Coming here has been great timing, I think,” Vukovic said.
“Giving myself the best possible chance of going to the World Cup was a big reason for coming over to Europe.
“I’m just one player who realises how big a season this is, and we all want to be on that plane to Russia.
“We all need to be at our best, especially with the new coach coming in. We all want to show him what we can do.”
Vukovic is making a good fist of it and was instrumental in the 1-0 win over Kortrijk, which clinched an away goals victory after the tie finished 3-3 on aggregate.
They will face either Club Brugge or Standard Liege in the final, with Liege leading 4-1 going into Friday morning’s (AEDT) second leg.
He readily concedes that Ryan is deservedly Australia’s number one, with the support cast jockeying for position behind him.
“He’s showing what he can do with Brighton in one of the best leagues in the world right now,” he said.
“There’s a group of us in behind wanting to go to the World Cup.
“You never get comfortable in the squad. There are no guarantees and I don’t think I’ve cemented anything.
“I’ll just keep working hard and hoping to be a part of the squad for March (and the friendlies against Colombia and Norway).”
Vukovic believes he’s close to career best form as he continues where he left off at Sydney, looking back at a premiership-championship double.
“It’s hard to go past that but a lot of that was down to a wonderful team,” he added. “I’m playing regular football here at a higher level.
“We played the semi-final two nights ago and that was our seventh game in 21 days.
“It’s not only the level of football but the amount of football I am playing at the moment.
“I’ve got a lot of minutes under my belt and I’m hoping that helps me get recognised by the new coach (van Marwijk) as well.”
Vukovic has a two-year deal, with an option for a further two seasons should the club choose to take that path.
“I’d like to stay as long as I can, it’s a great club and an environment where I can continue improving," Vukovic said.
“There were big shoes to fill taking over where Mat left off, and I’m just happy to be here. I’d have loved to come to Europe earlier in my career, and I tried at different stages.
“But that didn’t work. I believe everything happens for a reason and maybe if I’d come over at a younger age I might have had to bide my time.
“As it’s turned out I’ve played straight away and that’s a big plus.”