Socceroo Mat Ryan says he's looking forward to the challenge of establishing himself as first choice goalkeeper at Brighton and Hove Albion after signing a five-year deal with the Premier League new boys.
Ryan is now in Sochi, Russia, with Australia’s squad for the Confederations Cup.
With the opening fixture on Tuesday morning (AEST) against World Champions Germany his focus is on negotiating a tough group that also includes Cameroon and Chile.
Still the 25-year-old, who will head to England as soon as the tournament is over, allowed himself a moment to reflect on the move to the Seagulls.
I'm very excited for the opportunity that Brighton and Hove Albion have given me to contribute to the team over there," Ryan said.
"It's very exciting being a footballer and having an opportunity to play in one of the best leagues and against some of the best players.
"I’m happy to have joined the club and the project is a very exciting one and one that I’m looking forward to contributing to.”
The Australian is leaving Valencia having played only 10 games for the club including eight in the Spanish La Liga. During last season he was loaned to Belgian club Genk where he played 17 matches. Despite the lack of opportunities in Spain Ryan has no regrets.
“I’ve only positive things to say about the club," he said.
"I’m thankful to them for the opportunity to be at one of the biggest clubs in the world and to see how it operates and be in there on a day-to-day basis and learn everything. It gave me an opportunity to play against some of the best teams and players in the world.
"There’s no shying away from the fact that I probably would have preferred a little bit more game time but that’s the way it goes. I learned a lot of things from the experiences there.
"It’s onwards and upwards from here and just focusing on the future - (you) can’t change the past.”
Ryan was being pursued by a number of clubs but was clearly impressed by the set up at Brighton. The club has been knocking on the door of the Premier League for several seasons and finally made it back to the top flight for the first time in 34 years by finishing second in the Championship behind Newcastle, another outfit understood to be chasing the Australian's signature.
The Seagulls have been putting long-term plans in place for the EPL and have a top class set up in all aspects including some outstanding training facilities at nearby Lancing.
Ryan added: “They’ve been there or thereabouts for the last (few) previous seasons and finally achieved the qualification into the Premier League this year.
"It’s a great place and by all reports it’s a very exciting time to be a part of it at the moment. The project there is a very exciting one from what they were telling me and the information that I was receiving.
“From the moment that there was interest I felt the love at the club and the real desire to get me there. Every day the interest that was there got stronger and the deal seemed to get sweeter by the minute. I found myself making the decision to go there and I’m very happy with the decision and excited about the future there.”
Brighton's decision to splash out an undisclosed club record fee on Ryan indicates their confidence in the Socceroo. The goalkeeping standards at the club were set high by Dave Stockdale, who has since moved on to Birmingham City after being named in the Championship team of the season.
Ryan is looking forward to the challenge of earning a place in the first team and making an early impression:
“I heard that he (Stockdale) had a great season there last year," Ryan said.
"Credit to him he’s been around England for a long time and he’s a very established goalkeeper. It’s a nice challenge for me to improve on what he did at the club and I wouldn’t be going there if I didn’t have a bit of self-confidence to do well for the club.
"Hopefully throughout the matches I can contribute - a good goalkeeper is needed in a team to take some points for you here and there and hopefully I can be able to do that for the team. I'm just looking forward to the challenge.”