'I let the country down' - Australia keeper
Mat Ryan (AFP)
MELBOURNE - Australia goalkeeper Mat Ryan was on the verge of tears after letting through the goal that dumped the Socceroos out of the World Cup and is no less hard on himself after a few weeks to reflect.
On the last line of an inexperienced Socceroos' defence, the 22-year-old conceded nine goals from three matches and is still tormented by the Memphis Depay strike that gave Netherlands a 3-2 win.
Ryan was slow to pick up midfielder Depay's speculative shot from well outside the box and the lunging keeper managed only to get a hand to it.
That spelt the end of the Socceroos' tournament and the team duly crashed to a 3-0 thrashing at the hands of fellow evictees Spain in their final dead rubber match.
"It's never easy for a goalkeeper to make a mistake and unfortunately in the Netherlands game, the third goal, I was pretty disappointed with my effort," Ryan, who plays for Brugge in Belgium's top flight, said in comments published by News Ltd.
"It was probably the hardest five days of my life yet. It's never good making a mistake, let alone on the world stage in Brazil and at the World Cup, and I felt like I let my country down a little bit.
"Conceding three goals a game at that level isn't good enough. But in saying that there were a couple of saves I made, which was good for the confidence to show at that level I can make a save or two and hopefully in the future I can go away and learn from it."
Named the best keeper in the Belgian Pro League last season, Ryan replaced the long-serving Mark Schwarzer in a youthful Socceroos squad that will be expected to take the lessons from Brazil into the Asian Cup on home soil next year.
Though finishing without a point for the first time in their four World Cup campaigns, Ange Postecoglou-coached Australia won plaudits for their enterprising play, despite being the lowest ranked team at the finals.
"We've still got a lot of hard work in front of us," said Ryan. "We have to put together performances for the full 90 minutes, not just match it for 70.
"But the reception we received from the public was overwhelming and we're so proud to hear such great words being spoken of the team."