He’s started in every English Premier League game this season for Brighton but it could have easily been a different story for Caltex Socceroos keeper Mat Ryan.
The 25-year-old has been a shining light for the Seagulls this season and proved his class with a crucial last-minute penalty save to help Brighton to a 1-1 draw with Stoke City over the weekend.
But the former Mariners keeper may not have been playing in the Premier League at all, with Brighton boss Chris Hughton admitting he hadn’t seen the Aussie play live before bringing him to the club.
After a frustrating spell in Spain with Valencia where he struggled for consistent game-time between 2015-17, Ryan enjoyed a successful spell in Belgium on loan at Genk in 2017.
The spell in the Belgian top tier helped Ryan earn a five-year-deal with Brighton for a reported club-record transfer fee.
‘I’ve got to credit my goalkeeping coach Ben Roberts with signing him,’ Brighton boss Chris Hughton said, according to the Daily Mail.
“Because he went to Valencia to watch him and kept on at me that he was top quality. Ben went to see him play, watched hours of video, and insisted he was a player of the right age with the right ability and attitude for us.
‘He’s a really enthusiastic player, he’s different, we know he is not as big as some keepers but he is very athletic and really hungry to do well.”
Brighton are next in action on Sunday when they host Coventry City in the 5th round of the FA Cup.