'We're very lucky': Rhyan Grant's emotional exchange that put 2020 in perspective

Rhyan Grant had just about established himself as a Socceroos mainstay when COVID-19 stopped him and the national team dead in their tracks.

But as he returns for a 13th year with Sydney FC, the right back is refusing to rue the missed opportunities of the twelve months just passed. 

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Speaking on the ABC Grandstand Football Podcast, Grant openly discussed the mental battles that he has weighed up following the events of 2020. 

"That had probably been the biggest year for me," he said, "I was playing quite regularly for the Socceroos with those tournaments and all those games that 2020 had coming up." 

Rhyan Grant action v Syria, Asian Cup 2019
Grant in action against Syria during the 2019 Asian Cup

“It was sort of one of those years you think, ‘this is going to be a great experience for me, hopefully I can be part of it, do well and really enjoy representing our country and going to these new places and the rest of it’.

“Then for it to crumble it was a bit like, ‘why did it have to happen this year when I was in the team and playing regularly?'

But in the same breath you can't whinge about that. I think we're very lucky here in Australia in all aspects, whether it's sports or outside life in regard to COVID.

“You find yourself in that weird battle in your head but at the same time, you don't think about it too much at the moment with COVID everywhere.

“The situation is very in your face so you don't tend to think about what you're missing out on on everything else.”

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Even with an extended lockdown period last year, Grant barely feels as though he has taken the time and reflect upon his rise to becoming Socceroo #600. 

Even after establishing himself on the continent's biggest stage during the 2019 Asian Cup campaign in the UAE, where he started and finished all five of Australia's matches, the Canowindra-born defender is determined to remain grounded. 

He revealed how he only began to realise the magnitude of his achievements to date after an emotional exchange with loved ones. 

"I think the best way you can sort of relate to that I suppose is the way your, your parents and your family and your friends react to it," he said. 

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Grant during his Socceroos debut against Lebanon

“Obviously when I first got selected for Australia the first time was hugely emotional and something I didn't expect.

“I was a bit shocked then, but then as you get in the team there and you get picked for another camp, you don't really see it from an outsider's point of view where it's like ‘oh wow, now you're in the Socceroos'.

But when I talk to my old man, he doesn't say a lot but when he says  'that's a huge moment, I'm super proud of you for that’- we can whinge about so much as footballers but then you sit back and look at how lucky we are and for me to be able to represent my country and play a number of games now is huge.

“I think it sort of takes an outsider's look or comment to make you realise yeah well, things are going pretty good and you can't whinge too much or sulk about things.”

READ: From Canowindra to the Coast: Rhyan Grant’s life on the road

Grant has gained cult hero status within Australian football fans, not only for his performances in the A-League and internationally, but also for the majestic mullet that was first workshopped back in 2018.

On a lighter note, he provided an update on his haircut plans that many may find worrying. 

"I can definitely tell you that not everyone loves it, you either love it or hate it," he joked. 

"I am tossing up shaving it or changing it up, it's sort of become a bit annoying at the minute especially when it gets quite warm.

"I haven't made a decision that I definitely will change it, but I'm getting a bit older so I probably need a little bit more of a sensible haircut to grow up a little bit, but I'm not sure what I'll do or how it will turn out.

"But yeah, it will definitely be gone quite soon I'd say, if I was going to bet on it.”

In A-League matchweek 6 action, Grant's Sydney FC are preparing for their first competitive meeting with Macarthur FC, who they face at Campbelltown Stadium on Saturday night.