Brighton & Hove Albion goalkeeper Maty Ryan will be supported by no fewer than 27 members of his family when the Socceroos take on Peru in Sochi this afternoon at the FIFA World Cup.
The Albion stopper and the side go into today's contest knowing victory would give them a chance of progressing to the knockout stages depending on Denmark’s result against France, and Ryan revealed that he’d have some extra support in the final group match.
He said, “My family are all out here supporting me and that’s the influence family has, they’ve been on the journey with me since I was born and they’ve witnessed all the sacrifices and everything that I’ve had to go through.
“The life I live now enables me to give back to them, I’ve covered the trip and for me to share this experience with them is something I will always remember for the rest of my life.
“The oldest amongst them is my grandfather and the youngest is my cousin so the ages vary from three until the early 70s, so it’s a big range.
“It means everything to me to have them in the stands supporting me – it’s the first time they’ve all come across and watched because a World Cup is special and I had to share this with them.
“I asked if they were interested and if they were able to make it, half said they could and the other half are still at home.
"It’s been great and it was all designed to become a lifelong memory – there’s nothing better than being able to treat your family well and look after them and football allows me to do that.”
The Socceroos have only ever made it out of the group stages of football’s biggest tournament once before, in the 2006 finals in Germany.
Back then a 3-1 win over Japan and a dramatic 2-2 draw against Croatia saw Guus Hiddink’s side set up a last 16 clash with Italy, but the Australians fell to a 1-0 defeat – Ryan discussed what replicating the achievements of that side 12 years ago would mean to him.
“It’s difficult to find the words but it would be the reason we all play this sport if we were to get to the next stage.
“We want to create lifelong memories here and if we can qualify then we’d do that – the whole nation would remember the night for the rest of their lives.
“I’ll never forget celebrating us beating Japan and then progressing in 2006 and it would mean everything to me to be able to do that again.
“It would make all the work over the years worth it - when you achieve something like that it shows that it all pays off.”
Ryan and the side face Peru this afternoon with a 3pm kick-off and fans can watch how the goalkeeper and the Socceroos fare on ITV4.