'It’s a privilege': Ryan on becoming 62nd captain and second-most capped goalkeeper
Mat Ryan says the desire to continue the legacy of former Caltex Socceroos greats is a factor in a couple of impressive personal milestones for the gloveman.
Ryan became the 62nd captain of the Caltex Socceroos for the dominant 7-1 win over Chinese Taipei on Tuesday night, Australia’s biggest away win since a 6-0 victory over Tahiti 23 years ago.
The Brighton and Hove Albion shot-stopper also became the second-most capped (58) Caltex Socceroos keeper of all-time, edging past Zeljko Kalac (57) and behind legendary Mark Schwarzer (110).
“It’s unbelievable to be honest. You dedicate and sacrifice everything to try and have the best career you can have,” Ryan told socceroos.com.au.
“I still pinch myself really that I’m representing Australia and playing in the Premier League. Milestones like this makes all the sacrifices worth it and something I’ll truly keep close to my heart.
He added on the captaincy: “It’s a privilege…it’s nice the coaching staff recognise me as an example to go out there.
“I appreciate the opportunity I had to lead them out tonight. It was a nice feeling.”
At 27, Ryan has become an integral member of the Caltex Socceroos squad in recent years and is sure to play a key role on the road to Qatar.
While he’s still someway off reaching Schwarzer’s impressive number of caps, it’s interesting to note that the former gloveman was 35 when he reached 58 caps in green and gold.
“I had the privilege of working under him [Schwarzer] when I first came onto the scene,” Ryan recalled.
“And not only traits from him but the other senior players when I first came in that I picked up and tried to implement into my lifestyle and my game to help me try to prolong it as much as I can.
“They set a great example and I’m just trying to continue their legacy. We had such great role models them and just trying to keep that trend going here now.”
Ryan was disappointed Australia conceded the first goal in this qualifying phase but believes there are plenty of positive signs the squad can take forward.
“We were more clinical with the chances we created which is what the coaching staff asked of us,” said Ryan, who returns to the EPL this week for a clash against Aston Villa.
“It’s credit to the guys that stepped up and got on the scoresheet again, showing the composure in the final third which adds to the tally we put up in the end.
"We can improve in certain areas, it was disappointing to concede [but] we got the result and the journey goes on.”