Thursday 20 June 2019

Family man Ryan keen to make history for biggest fans

Australia's goalkeeper Mathew Ryan. Photo: Getty Images
Australia's goalkeeper Mathew Ryan. Photo: Getty Images

Jamie Holland

Mathew Ryan has paid for 27 members of his family to travel to Russia and watch him represent Australia, who face a win-or-bust Group C meeting with Peru in Sochi this afternoon.

Australia must beat Peru, hope Denmark lose to France and also better the Danes' goal difference or goals scored in order to book their place in the round of 16.

The 24-year-old Brighton goalkeeper knows the odds are against them but, even if they fall short, he will at least be able to rely on the support of his nearest and dearest.

The group of 27 ranges from a three-year-old cousin to a grandfather in his seventies.

"For me to share the experience with them is something we will all remember for the rest of our lives," said Ryan. "A World Cup doesn't come around every so often. The chance to share something like this with them was a no-brainer.

Thankful

"I wanted it to become a lifelong memory. I'm thankful to the game for allowing me to do that."

If Australia do reach the round of 16, it would equal their best World Cup finish, achieved by the 'golden generation' of 2006.

That year, under the management of Guus Hiddink, the Socceroos were narrowly denied a quarter-final place by Italy, the eventual winners.

Ryan was a teenager at the time, watching from the other side of the world in the early hours of the morning, and he hopes this new crop of Australian talent can emulate their predecessors.

"If we are successful, the whole nation hopefully will remember that achievement. Just as much as that in 2006, celebrating us beating Japan and all the heartache that followed against Italy.

"It would mean the world to me. All the sacrifice and dedication, it means it will have all paid off."

Irish Independent

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