Despite being newly crowned Belgian keeper of the year, fans have yet to see the very best from Socceroos’ rising star Mat Ryan.
With Mark Schwarzer’s retirement late last year, there were fears about the strength of the national team’s keeper ranks.
But Ryan has stepped up in his first season at Club Brugge, winning Belgian Keeper of the Year in a fantastic first season in Europe.
And now the world will get to see Ryan’s quality at the World Cup as the national team’s undisputed number one, predicts Jim Fraser, who believes Ryan is still far from his peak.
“To be fair, there’s a big difference between playing in an ‘A’ international and a World Cup.
“A big, big difference. Especially for a goalkeeper,” Fraser told www.socceroos.com.au.
“But Maty’s got that mental toughness to step that up and do the job.
“He hasn’t reached his peak yet. He’s nowhere near it.
“He’ll get more experience as he goes, he’ll improve. But the most important thing about Maty is he’s very consistent.
“And that’s what you want from your keepers, consistency good performances. He doesn’t make many mistakes.”
While Fraser admits Central Coast Mariners’ keeper coach John Crawley was influential in Ryan’s rise, he remembers the young shot-stopper some eight years ago.
Fraser, a UEFA ‘A’ licenced coach and Socceroo from 1970 to 1974, first coached Ryan at Westfields Sports High School before the teen transitioned into Fraser’s highly rated
International Goalkeepers Academy in Sydney (www.internationalgoalkeepers.com).
At the time, Ryan was with Blacktown Demons as a young teenager.
“He was small and he was always worried about his height,” said Fraser.
“But I’d say, get your technique right first, you’ll grow. We can’t control your height but we can get your technique right.
“I mean, it’s no good being six foot five if you don’t come off your line.
“He always worked hard, first here last away. That included spending time on his distribution which has paid off.
“He’s a good kid. Sort of like a quiet achiever and dedicated to making the best of what he had.”
And Fraser has no doubts where the former A-League star sits in the current Socceroo goalkeeper ranks.
“Langerak is a very good keeper and Maty’s very young to have that position.
“[But Ryan is] definitely number one. The last three years he’s really come of age.
“He’s the best of the best of the modern goalkeepers in that he’s capable of making the big saves, good under pressure, distributes and reads the game well.
“He sweeps well too. He’s got all the characteristics required to play at that top level.
“One of the best things though is, he makes great decisions. And decision making is key in keeping.
“He reads things early because his game awareness is superb. So he reacts straight away.
“He’s number one by a mile.”
Send Off the Socceroos
Socceroos vs South Africa, presented by NAB
Monday 26 May 2014 ANZ Stadium, Sydney Kick-off: 7.30pm
Tickets from $30, including public transport. Buy now!