It has been a whirlwind 16 months for Mat Ryan with the former Central Coast Mariners goalkeeper hitting the ground running in Belgium with Club Brugge, winning the Belgian Pro League's Goalkeeper of the Year award and starting all three matches for Australia at this year's World Cup.
A regular for the Socceroos under Ange Postecoglou, Ryan is fulfilling the potential he showed in three seasons with the Mariners.
The 22-year-old gloveman is already being linked with bigger and better clubs than Brugge but in an interview with Goal.com, he says he is happy to stay in Belgium for a couple more years, and insists Australia is moving in the right direction under Postecoglou.
The Socceroos have won only one match of eight in 2014. Is the team worried about the upcoming AFC Asian Cup?
Everyone is really excited about the Asian Cup. We have played some quality opponents recently with a lot of new players within the squad.
But we all believe in our boss's plan to make us a great footballing side and have no worries for the Asian Cup. It will be a difficult tournament but we will be approaching each game with no fear and belief we can win every game.
You're one of the players that has come up with Ange Postecoglou. How has the team dealt with his arrival after Holger Osieck?
There are a number of new players the boss has brought in to many different camps. He assures us that we are all heading in the right direction and has the full support of every player. It's exciting to see the progress we are making.
Are you comfortable about replacing Mark Schwarzer in the Socceroos? Did anyone give you any advice in that respect?
Obviously Schwarzy had an illustrious career at international level and continues to have that at club level. They are massive shoes to fill but I am doing my best to fulfil the position's needs. Hopefully the more games I play in that environment the better I can get.
In your opinion, who's the player who will lead the Australian national team in the coming years?
Great teams don't have just one player they have a number of great players, so it's hard to single out one name. There are a lot of opportunities being presented to boys in the team and it's up to them as individuals to step up and take that chance.
How important is it for a young player like yourself to play and train with people like Tim Cahill? What does he teach to the younger players?
For me it was really overwhelming when called into camp with the likes of my childhood heroes. It's very educational to all us young guys - to see how they conduct themselves in a professional manor off the field, the attitude in which they approach training and games.
But I think the biggest thing is that you recognize they are just human beings like you and me, shows us that our dreams can come true if you have the utmost dedication to being the best you can be.
Belgium has been a good country to start your career in Europe, after you trialled with some English clubs. Do you want to step up to a harder league?
I want to test myself and play at the highest level for as long as I can. I understand that it's a process to get there and maintain that and I am very happy at my development thus far. I think another year if not two seasons in Belgium with European competition, maintaining a high level of playing and I would have gained enough experience to move onto bigger and better. I hope.
Is the goalkeeper's world as hard as it seems? How do you deal with criticism?
Everyone says you have to be crazy to be a goalkeeper, which is true I guess. We get put in a lot of vulnerable situations. We don't have the luxury of making mistakes and not being punished, so it requires very good mental strength to play the position.
Criticism is a part of sport and life. You just have to accept it from the right people to make you a better player.
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