What is it with Caltex Socceroos stars and being involved in incredible English Premier League moments?
We’ve had Harry Kewell make history by winning the PFA Young Player of the Year award when he burst onto the scenes at Leeds United.
We’ve had Mark Schwarzer's last ditch plenty save to send Middlesbrough into Europe; his role in back-to-back Premier League titles and earning the status as the only non-UK player to make over 500 appearances.
We’ve had Tim Cahill forever write himself into Everton folklore for his 56 goals (from midfield!) including that 89th minute bicycle kick against Chelsea in 2007.
We’ve had Mark Viduka sink Liverpool – LIVERPOOL! – with a four-goal haul in his first season at Leeds where they went on to finish in the top four.
We’ve had Bosnich, Slater, Emerton, Jedinak, Lazaridis, Neill, Popovic, Skoko and co. A list almost endless.
All of them have etched into the hearts and minds of Premier League fans.
Now, it’s two more Caltex Socceroos who write their names into history.
Aaron Mooy. Mat Ryan.
Both have played a vital role in Huddersfield Town and Brighton Hove and Albion being guaranteed Premier League football next season.
The two teams with the smallest budget, the smallest wage bills and the favourites for the drop, instead both go into the final game of the season safe after huge late season results.
Ryan kept a cleansheet – his 10th in 37 games – at home to Manchester United to help Brighton win 1-0 and achieve certain safety.
It took Mooy’s Huddersfield one more game to notch up the same feat – but it was perhaps even more heroic. On the road to runaway champions Manchester City – 0-0 draw. Followed up by a 1-1 draw on the road to last season’s champions Chelsea.
Both games combined so Mooy’s team notch up just 246 completed passes to Manchester City and Chelsea’s combined 1,354 tally. Where the Terriers mustered up just eight shots in 180 minutes of backs-to-the-wall defending, their opponents managed 37.
Just as the wage bill and those stats highlight’s their underdog status it’s clear this is a story about overcoming the odds and proving the impossible can be possible.
And at the heart – Aussies. Caltex Socceroos lynchpins. Graduates of the Hyundai A-League.
Mooy and Ryan were no small part of the fairytale either.
Mooy – ex-Melbourne City and Western Sydney Wanderers – is fifth in the entire Premier League for tackles won (98) and tops his club’s charts for key passes and total passes as he acted as a metronome for Huddersfield.
Ryan – ex-Central Coast Mariners – is fourth in the Premier League for saves made (118), including two penalties denied.
Without both, the stories for both clubs would have been vastly different.
THE UK REACTION TO BRIGHTON, HUDDERSFIELD’S SURVIVAL
“Survival is often about defying the odds and Huddersfield have most certainly done that. The run-up from hell has been, well, if not a walk in the park, certainly not the one-way ticket to the Championship widely predicted. This was a performance of incredible courage.” – Martin Samuel for The Daily Mail UK
“Huddersfield Town have done it. The underdogs, the side everyone wrote off, the team most predicted to be down by Christmas are staying in the Premier League for a second season.” – Rory Benson for The Huddersfield Examiner
“A feeling money can’t buy, all the more so because of the money Huddersfield shouldn’t be able to compete with … It is a sensational achievement by the German manager [David Wagner] – maybe, according to the economics, one of the Premier League’s finest.” – Miguel Delaney for The Independent
“Brighton have enjoyed plenty of giddy highs since their restoration to the top division but this was a victory to cap them all. By securing a first win over Manchester United in 36 years Chris Hughton’s team are safe. The wave of relief that swept round the Amex at the final whistle swiftly turned to raucous delight. There will be top-flight football in Sussex by the sea for another year.” – Dominic Fifield for The Guardian.
“[Brighton] are now sure of playing in the Premier League next season and that is a wonderful achievement ... So wonderful it actually seemed a little odd that they played the Great Escape tune at the end of this win - there was actually no escape because they have been so good they rarely seemed in danger.” – Riath Al-Samarrai for The Daily Mail UK
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