Football: Liverpool interest 'flattering', says Aussie 'keeper

Football: Liverpool interest 'flattering', says Aussie 'keeper
Mathew Ryan of Australia.

SYDNEY - Australia goalkeeper Mathew Ryan on Thursday insisted that reports linking him to English giants Liverpool will not distract him from this weekend's Asian Cup final against South Korea.

"Obviously it's very flattering to have your name involved with a big team like that," the Belgium-based stopper told reporters on Thursday. "But my mind is on the job here."

"I'm just focusing on the tournament and I would love to lift up the trophy come Saturday," added Ryan. "For the moment I'm very happy at Club Brugge and my club (with me) also.

If it's meant to be, something will happen in the future."

Ryan has shot to fame during the Asian Cup with a string of dazzling performances as the Socceroos stormed to their second successive final, after losing in extra time to Japan four years ago - a match the 22-year-old watched with his family on TV.

"I remember watching it at home," he said. "For whatever reason it wasn't meant to be for us. Four years down the track and we're back here in the final. Hopefully we can switch the result from that night."

Ryan, who says Spanish goalkeeper Iker Casillas is his role model, admitted he has struggled to come to terms with following in the footsteps of Mark Schwarzer and playing in the same side as idols such as Tim Cahill.

"It is a bit surreal," he said. "Sometimes I go to sleep and think I'm representing my country in a massive tournament, playing as the number one guy. It's just mind-blowing. You dream of it as a kid.

"I remember my first couple of camps I was in such awe of those guys. At my first dinner sitting at my table was Schwarzy and Harry Kewell. I was sitting there with my eyes wide open thinking this is crazy. It doesn't feel real when it happens.

"Australia has always been blessed with having a lot of depth in the goalkeeping position," he added. "The difference between us young guys and guys like Timmy and Schwarzy is their ability to consistently put in top performances for their country.

"At my age to achieve something like that, I'm very happy. But I know I can't rest on my laurels. I've just got to keep my head down and work hard - and hopefully we can get a win on Saturday." Now Ryan and Australia have the chance to exact quick revenge for a 1-0 defeat by South Korea in the group stages in the final and win their first Asian title.

"All the pieces seem to be coming together at the right time for us," he said. "I can't wait to give a fairytale ending, not only to the players but the public."

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