Great Britain

Maty Ryan inspires seriously ill fan to get back on his feet with heart-warming gesture

MATY RYAN has pulled out all the stops this season but perhaps his greatest save came off the pitch.

The Brighton keeper was recently contacted by the family of a young fan suffering from Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a serious and rare disease that affects muscle strength.

The seven-year-old had reacted badly to treatment and was left in a very poorly condition.

Watching videos of Ryan in action seemed to be the only way to elicit a response from the lad, whose father asked the Aussie if he could send a video of support.

Ryan obliged and, amazingly, the youngster was up on his feet in hospital kicking a ball around just over a week later.

The former Valencia stopper, 27, recalled: “You have to pinch yourself sometimes at the effect you seem to have on fans.

“This sick young lad with this rare condition loves football and the family said the only way they were getting a response from him was by showing videos of me playing games.

“They asked if I could do a video of support for him.

“We did one in the media room at the training ground wishing him well and saying what an inspiration he was with the battle he was fighting.

“Literally a couple of days later, they sent me an email that the boy had suddenly woken up.

“He had some machines on him but he said, ‘Thanks for your video, you really inspire me, I love you guys and supporting you’.

“When I received that video, I was like ahh, disbelief.

“The family were saying it was my video that did that but I can’t comprehend how that would be the case.

“Another week later they sent another video where he was then in the hospital next to his bed, holding the arm of a nurse but kicking a ball around in hospital.

“To think that maybe my video  contributed to him going from being unresponsive less a week and a half earlier to standing up next to this hospital bed kicking a ball . . . wow.

“The influence you can have on the public and individuals is mindblowing.”

The boy and his family now hope to say a personal thank you to Ryan when they attend the Chelsea game at the Amex on New Year’s Day.

It shows just how deeply Brighton fans have taken Ryan to their hearts since he arrived two years ago.

Another young supporter even named his puppy Maty after his favourite goalkeeper!

Ryan could never have predicted he would be so influential on a European club’s fanbase when he was growing up Down Under.

One person who has been involved in his journey from the beginning is international team-mate Aaron Mooy.

Ryan and Mooy both went to  Sydney’s Westfields Sports High School, which also boasts Harry  Kewell as a famous former pupil.

Mooy, 29, is a couple of years older than Ryan but they still played alongside each other for the school team.

And Ryan is delighted to have been reunited at club level with his old pal after Mooy joined the Seagulls on loan from Huddersfield in the  summer.

Former Genk star Ryan added: “We grew up 15 minutes from each other.

“We weren’t close, close friends — you tend to hang out with friends in your own year at school - but sometimes we played together in the same school team.

“When we were at school, Aaron was one of the players who had this big reputation that he was a huge  talent who would go on and do big things in football.

“You automatically respected him for his football talent. It’s nice that his story has panned out this way and he’s been able to hit the heights of the game.”

Ryan has been captaining Mooy for Australia in the last few games and would be happy keeping on the gig  permanently following skipper Mark Milligan’s retirement from international  football.

The keeper — who looks the frontrunner to be named full-time Aussie skipper — has been in tip-top form all season for his club with his 66 league saves only bettered by Arsenal’s Bernd Leno.

Meanwhile, Mooy shone in  Brighton’s 2-1 win over the Gunners earlier this month in what has been an encouraging — and unbeaten — December for Graham Potter’s mid-table side.

Ryan, who takes on Sheffield United today, added: “There was no doubt in my mind that Aaron would add quite a bit to the team.

“In the last few weeks when he’s got some regular minutes we’ve really noticed his contribution to the team and the way that  we want to play.

“It’s nice acknowledging our little journey — how we met when we were that young and now we’re the two Aussies in the Premier League playing at the same club. It’s nice to be a part of.”

Arsenal fans furious as Aubameyang leaves pitch for toilet break with Gunners chasing a goal against Brighton

Football news:

Pep about 3:1 with Wolverhampton: Sometimes Manchester City enter the season quickly, sometimes they don't. We played well
Kevin de Bruyne: Wolverhampton have caused Manchester City problems before. I am glad that we played well
Stefano Pioli: Milan are confident, can grit their teeth and fight. Zlatan proves that he is a champion
Ibrahimovic on the Bologna double: If I was 20 years younger, I would have scored a couple more. But I'm not old
Cavani's entourage and Atletico discussed a two-year contract at a hotel meeting
Abramovich is suspected of secretly investing in players of other clubs
Ibrahimovic has scored 23 consecutive seasons at club level