'What am I doing this all for?' - How the Socceroos sparked Ryan's revival

Brighton and Hove Albion goalkeeper Mathew Ryan revealed he sought the advice of Socceroos past and present to help nurture him through his dark days with La Liga giants Valencia.

Mat Ryan

Mat Ryan in action for Australia Source: Getty Images

"You're not going to achieve much by sulking around."

The words echoed around Ryan's head after his career came grinding to a harsh halt at Valencia.

With game time virtually non-existent, and a managerial circus occupying the club, Ryan needed help, and he found it in former Central Coast Mariners teammate Pedj Bojic and ex-Socceroo Mile Sterjovski.

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"I spoke to Mile and Pedj more about my specific situation at Valencia," Ryan wrote in a column for PlayersVoice.

"The message from them was strong and consistent: stay professional, work hard and keep yourself in the best physical and mental state possible because you don’t know when your next opportunity is going to come."

This unknown had often been the 25-year-old's undoing in the past.

"There had been days at Valencia where I spat the dummy and asked myself, ‘What am I training for? I’m throwing myself around for nothing’," Ryan revealed.



After an impressive two seasons with Belgian's Club Brugge, Ryan sealed a six-year deal with Valenica in 2015 - a move many anticipated carried starting responsibilities.

And after Ryan capitalised on an injury to then-number one Diego Alves, he too found himself on the sidelines - battling injury and any realistic chance to reclaim his place.

"I was frustrated and fed up and it wasn’t doing my career any good," he said.

It was in this moment that Socceroos star Tim Cahill also came to his 'keeper's aid.

"The thing that strikes me with Timmy is how he uses history to drive him on. He instils this within himself – to keep pushing, keep achieving his goals."

With the 2018 FIFA World Cup fast approaching, Ryan knew his place with the national team was under serious threat if his situation stayed the same.



However, despite Valencia's reluctance to move the former A-League champion on, an impressive loan stint last season with fellow Belgian outfit Racing Genk revitalised Ryan's stocks and soon set the wheels in motion for Premier League newcomers Brighton to make the play.

"When I first arrived at Brighton, I was determined to shake off the bad memories of the past year, work as hard as was humanly possible and prove myself in the best league in the world," Ryan said.

"I always have high expectations of myself. I’m my own harshest critic."

These expectations have since catapulted Ryan to career-best success, boasting eight clean sheets from 27 league games with the Seagulls to see them sit 14th as a result.

"Now that I’ve experienced what the other side of football is like, it makes me appreciate even more what I have here at Brighton," Ryan added. "It truly is a special place."


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3 min read
Published 19 February 2018 at 7:40pm
Source: SBS The World Game