Caltex Socceroos goalkeeper Mat Ryan is hoping to write his name in the history books of his club Brighton when he plays in one of the biggest games of his life on Sunday (kick-off 2.30am AEST).
Ryan and his teammates will attempt to deny Manchester City at the world-famous Wembley Stadium on one of the red-letter days on English football’s calendar – the FA Cup semi-final.
If they succeed, it will be only the second time this unfashionable club from the south coast has reached the showpiece final.
Since their previous appearance – lost after a replay with Manchester United in 1983 – Brighton have been relegated all the way down to the professional game’s fourth tier and spent years without a permanent home ground.
They returned to the top flight in 2016/17, and Ryan told the Irish Daily Mirror: “I will be proud to represent Brighton at Wembley when you consider where the club have come from the past few years and the struggles they have had.
To reach the semi-finals is something we can all be proud of.
“We know what this means to the club, the fans and the city. It’s a special moment. And if we can follow the 1983 team by reaching the final everyone connected with Brighton will cherish the moment.”
Ryan’s penalty shootout heroics helped Brighton overcome Championship club Millwall in the previous round and the 26-year-old former Central Coast Mariners stopper is looking forward to testing himself against some of the best players in the world at Wembley.
“I play the game to create as many memories as I can – and the bigger the challenge the better the memory. To be 2-0 down at Millwall with three minutes to play just makes us even more determined to get through against City.
Whenever you play a big team like City it is a bit of a free hit. They are obviously a great team with a lot of great players. The pressure and expectation will be on them to win.
“But quite often in sport the underdog can make a game of it, as we found out at Millwall and City discovered at Swansea [in the quarter-finals]. We’ll be doing everything we can to try to make a game of it and give ourselves the best possible chance of beating them.
“We are not shying away from the fact we are facing a tough task. But this is an opportunity for us to do something special.”