Mat Ryan says he is “not surprised” his FC Copenhagen goalkeeping rival publicly sledged his mistake that gifted Argentina their second goal, while promising not to let it define him after an otherwise unblemished World Cup campaign.
Kamil Grabara has repeatedly questioned Ryan’s skill since they became teammates in August, when Ryan was signed while Grabara was out with a long-term injury.
The 23-year-old, who spent five years on Liverpool’s books without making an English Premier League appearance, had been Copenhagen’s first-choice keeper last season when they won the Danish Superliga title.
In October, just as he was returning to the team, Grabara told Danish outlet Tipsbladet he and Ryan are “not friends” and he did not “see any competition for the goalkeeper position”.
“I just have to state that there is a reason why we are in ninth place in the Superliga and that the goals have poured in,” Grabara said then. “It speaks for itself.”
He has since retaken Copenhagen’s No 1 role, sparking initial concerns Ryan may not be match-fit for Australia’s Qatar 2022 campaign. However, this mistake aside, the 30-year-old Ryan has been in superb form all tournament.
Grabara, who is part of Poland’s World Cup squad as an injury replacement but has not played a single minute, was quick to jump on Ryan’s heavy touch that allowed Julián Álvarez to score in the second half of the 2-1 round-of-16 loss.
“Must have been politics, for sure,” he tweeted, followed by a smirk emoji intimating Ryan had lost his club starting spot because of his lack of ability.
Ryan learned about the tweet after the game and told media: “I’m not surprised with you to be honest. But, yeah, his opinion doesn’t really concern me.”
Socceroos teammates and coach Graham Arnold were quick to support Ryan after the loss, which ended their World Cup campaign, though the player himself conceded “it hurts a lot”.
Ryan said the backline had been told to play out from the back with the view it would help them “penetrate [Argentina] further down the field”, though they emerged from half-time with increased impetus and “tactically put a bit more together in terms of how they wanted to come and press us”.
“I tried to adjust as quick as I could and copped a little bump there,” he said. “Maybe I could have tried and milked a foul there or something in hindsight, or put my foot through it. The modern way of playing, and playing out from the back, you’ve still got to find the right balance of doing that and knowing when to get yourself out of danger.
“I haven’t seen a replay but I’ll analyse it and I can only learn from it. We learn from our hardships in life and it’s definitely one for me. It hurts a lot, but I won’t let it get the better of me or define me. I’ll come back stronger for it.”
Ryan recovered and went on to make a number of saves in a frenzied final 20 minutes, during which Australia scored after Craig Goodwin’s shot took a heavy deflection off Enzo Fernández.
Arnold leapt to Ryan’s defence post-match, saying “everyone makes mistakes, he’s been a fantastic captain and fantastic player”, and was joined by teammates.
“Maty has saved our bacon more times than I can think,” said defender Kye Rowles, who could be seen comforting Ryan after full-time. “And he did it after [the mistake] as well, making multiple saves that kept us in the game so we could keep fighting.”