Brighton’s Maty Ryan highlights in the Premier League

There was a poignant meaning about the photo of Maty Ryan that we’ve used online a few times lately.

It shows goalie Socceroos waving to Albion fans at the top of that Wolves end.

We didn’t know it at the time, but it turned out Ryan was saying goodbye to Seagulls fans in the Premier League.

Around 2,500 were able to see him play in a preseason game against Chelsea last summer.

But that 0-0 draw at Molineux on March 7 of last year turned out to be his last in the Prem in front of fans.

Robert Sanchez had taken over as 2,000 apiece saw games against Southampton and Sheffield United and 8,000 roared from their side for a late-season win over Manchester City.

Ryan said he looked forward to playing in front of a crowd again when he addressed the Real Sociedad club media on Monday night.

He had returned from a vacation in California to Bilbao via Munich to complete his return to La Liga Santander.

It sounds like a good move for everyone involved.

But Albion fans will have fond memories of Ryan as one of those players who established the club in the Premier League.

In a video posted by Albion some time ago, he chose a penalty save at Stoke City as his best for the club.

Ryan dove to his right to ward off a kick from Charlie Adam in a frenzied final that saw the Seagulls hang on at an important point in the battle to stay behind in 2017-18.

It was a good choice. But maybe I would stop at Son Hueng-min as one of my top picks.

Albion fans were screaming unfairness as Tottenham were allowed to play and attack as it looked like the first half stoppage time must have passed.

It was at a time when survival was not yet assured after a series of difficult results.

Son’s shot was well hit and flared just inside the post.

But Ryan stretched to put his left hand on the ball and, with his fingertips, deflect it a few inches.

As in Stoke, a very important as well as a good stop.

Instead of falling behind at half-time, Albion then got a point that pushed them to a safety that was ensured next time around, at home against Manchester United.

But sometimes the most extraordinary stops count for nothing in the final analysis.

Like the penalty, stop low to his right to fend off Wayne Rooney at Goodison Park.

Or a barely believable effort on the final day at Anfield in 2018.

Liverpool were in tears that day, especially Mo Salah, as they warmed up for what they believed was a winning appearance against Real Madrid in the Champions League final.

At one point Sadio Mane and Salah swooped down on Kop’s final goal with no defenders in the frame. Mane squared the ball but Ryan was quick to shut down Salah and block his shot almost at the source.

Liverpool still won 4-0 but it could have been more.

Or how about a double stop at close range to turn Paul Pogba down at Old Trafford?

It was 0-0 at the time, but United won the game 1-0.

Ryan would come out trying to reduce angles in a sort of ice hockey goalie position and it often worked.

There was a double home save against Everton or a late reflex save against Wolves to preserve a third straight 1-0 win.

In his last full season at Albion, you may remember the devastating paw of a header to preserve the special 2-1 victory at Arsenal.

Few of those best saves came from last season.

His relative lack of presence as the high balls came in was perhaps one of the reasons he lost his spot.

This became more visible when the double act of Shane Duffy and Lewis Dunk before him was severed.

There was widespread surprise, perhaps disbelief, last year when reports revealed that Albion wanted to sign Emiliano Martinez from Arsenal.

Looking at what happened over the following months, and looking at the kind of goalie Sanchez is, that development now makes a lot more sense.

Now Ryan’s time with the Seagulls is over – after 121 Prem starts plus two in the FA Cup.

The expectation around San Sebastian, the beautiful coastal town that Ryan will now call his home, is that he will start the championship season behind Remiro in the pecking order.

Remiro was still there last season for the squad with La Liga’s fourth best defensive record and, like Ryan, is confident with the ball at his feet.

Remember that Real Sociedad is opening their league season at Camp Nou against Barcelona.

But Ryan will want to pick up where he left off at Molineux – with reason to receive fan applause.

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