Five Minutes With… Matt Ryan

At just 17 years of age young goal-keeper Matthew Ryan has already gained valuable Hyundai A-League experience, acting as Danny Vukovic’s understudy for three matches this season, whle Andrew Redmayne was on Qantas Young Socceroo duty.

At just 17 years of age young goal-keeper Matthew Ryan has already gained valuable Hyundai A-League experience, acting as Danny Vukovic-s understudy for three matches this season, whle Andrew Redmayne was on Qantas Young Socceroo duty.

With regular shot-stopper Danny Vukovic injuring his neck before the clash against Wellington Phoenix, there was a chance the young keeper could be called into the game. Vukovic ultimately recovered but the chance to be exposed to top level football has fuelled his desire to continue his footballing education and progress through the ranks.

In a new segment called ‘Five Minutes With…- Matthew Ryan talks to about his favourite footballing memory, his philosophy on saving penalites and his experiences with the first team.

The future looks bright between the sticks for this young prospect.

First junior club, and age started playing, what attracted you to the game?

I first started playing football at the age of five for the Good Shepherd Rams, a local club in the Mount Druitt area. It was more my parents who steered me towards football, I loved sport and was a bit of an all-round sportsman, but for me personally it was always going to be football. I grew up with a football at my feet and my dad always encouraged me to play because he used to play himself.

When did you first concentrate on goalkeeping? Were you an outfield player before that?

It wasn-t until Under 10s when I played half a season as a goalkeeper for a representative side. I originally became a ‘keeper because my mate was playing in the team and they needed one, so I thought I would give it a go. The next season I went back into the outfield and in Under 12s I went back to being a ‘keeper and have been playing there ever since.

Most goalkeepers fancy themselves as attacking players when they get a chance to play in the outfield. What position did you play?

That-s very true! I played striker and attacking midfield and was lucky I managed to score a lot of goals. Every keeper you talk to likes to have shots at goal mucking around before training, so I guess striker is the main position most seem to play.

How has the experience been sitting on the bench for the first team?

It-s been awesome. I-ve been very lucky to be given that opportunity to sit on the bench with the first team. It-s unbelievable really and it-s difficult to explain. I-m only 17 so sitting on the bench with the first team was a great experience.

In Wellington there was a chance you may have had to play, how were the nerves that day?

Danny (Vukovic) was injured with that neck problem and I was a bit nervous on game day but I still thought he was always going to be right to play. If I had got to play I would-ve tried to play to the best of my ability, and I was definitely more nervous than I had been in previous weeks. Looking back it would-ve been nice to say I played but I-m very glad I had the chance to sit on the bench and see a game from that perspective.

What would you rate as your strengths as a keeper?

For me personally I-m a pretty good distributor of the ball. Most keepers are known for shot-stopping but for me I think distribution is my x-factor. I-m pretty good with the ball at my feet and I can hit a ball upfield to teammates pretty consistently.

With regard to penalties you-re either the hero or the villan. Do you feel there is more pressure on you to save it or on the kicker to score?

Everyone always says the pressure is on the kicker to score and obviously there is a fair bit of pressure as it-s just you and the ‘keeper with no defenders in front of you. In saying that, ‘keepers like being selfish and we like to think that we-re expected to save them. I know I put a lot of effort into saving them so I would like to think that I would save it!

Have you played representative football?

The first representative level I played at was Under 10s for Marconi Stallions and I think it was at division one level. It was before all the premier youth competitions that are common now.

What are your goals for the season?

Obviously Danny and Andrew Redmayne are ahead of me in terms of development, they-re both fantastic ‘keepers. My goal is that when I do get gametime on the park is the make the most of my opportunities

How have you found the training with Danny Vukovic?

It-s a really great experience however it can be intimidating at times. He is so professional at everything he does. Training both with him and Redmayne as well and seeing the type of commitment and skill needed to get to that level is really helpful. Both are obviously many levels above me and I try to learn as much as I can.

Are there any ‘keepers around the world you enjoy watching?

Well I only recently got Foxtel so I haven-t had the chance yet to watch much overseas football. I-m an Arsenal supporter so I would have to say Manuel Almunia he-s been ‘keeping well lately. Apart from that I usually just watch the A-League and Danny is the best ‘keeper I-ve seen in person.

Favourite moment in football?

My favourite moment so far would have to be my Under 16s season. We made the semi-finals and in the grand final quailfier we won on penalties. We backed that up the next week and won again on penalites. I don-t mind penalty shootouts too much. I love the big occasion and I think I-ve only lost one out of about nine. They-re always fun to test yourself against.