8. RHYAN GRANT | Sydney FC
Position: Right back, central midfielder
A-League apps: 146 (Sydney FC)
A-League goals: 6 (Sydney FC)
Achievements: A-League championship (2009-10, 2016-17), A-League premiership (2009-10, 2016-17), PFA A-League Team of the Season (2016-17)
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
Sydney FC looked to capitalise on a period of sustained pressure after Melbourne Victory failed to adequately clear a free-kick. It was the 69th minute of the biggest club match in Australian football last season, and the Sky Blues found themselves behind. As the ball was left pinging around, David Carney found space in the crowded box, his subsequent shot cannoned into the upright following a Lawrence Thomas save. But in a moment of sheer instinct and brilliant anticipation, Rhyan Grant ghosted in and tucked the ball into the back of the net giving the hosts a lifeline.
It was goal which, in many ways, summed up perfectly Sydney’s versatile midfielder. The 26-year-old is somewhat shy yet adventurous, he’s softly spoken but does most of the talking on the pitch and whilst he hails from Canowindra, a historic New South Wales town known largely for their hot-air ballooning, Grant is anything but ‘up with the fairies’ – he’s grounded, level headed and hard-working.
And so whilst Milos Ninkovic gained all the plaudits for slamming home the winning penalty in that showpiece, for the make-shift right-back, his goal in the A-League Grand Final was essentially the icing on what has been an unfortunately topsy-turvy career so far.
From a young age, he was considered a prodigy, gaining an Australian Institute of Sport scholarship despite not fitting the age before moving on to sign for Sydney, making his A-League debut in that same year. The midfielder impressed in the following season as he looked to cement a first-team spot, and his domestic form was duly rewarded with a call-up to Australia’s Under-20s side.
Just as he looked to be developing into a star, tragedy struck in the Sydney Derby back in 2013 when he suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury and was out for the remainder of the season.
As last season showed, however, when fit, Grant is one of the nation’s best, playing every single minute across all competitions, racking up two goals and five assists from right-back.
However, following the highs of a domestic double last season, Grant’s latest injury has sent him hurtling back down to earth.
The fullback’s A-League season is in doubt after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament again back in July during standard sprint drills, with the injury so severe it required a full knee reconstruction.
It’s undoubtedly a big blow for Grant, who will have to face yet another extended spell on the sidelines and wave goodbye to any dreams of featuring for the Socceroos in Russia next year.
But given what he has been through previously, he will undoubtedly be back, stronger, tougher and even better than before.
Goal A-League 20:
No.7 in Goal's Top 20 A-League players will be named on Thursday.