Brighton No 1 has matured in the two years since he conceded seven goals against Messi and co in Barcelona
Mathew Ryan smiles in a self‑deprecating way. Brighton’s goalkeeper is thinking back to the night when Barcelona pummelled Gary Neville’s ragged Valencia side and it is clear he does not have fond memories from his only visit to the Camp Nou. “Wouldn’t it hurt you if you were a goalkeeper?” he says.
Fair point. Selected by Neville for the first leg of Valencia’s Copa del Rey semi-final against the Spanish and European champions in February 2016, it was Ryan’s misfortune to take most of the punches. “I wanted to stop Messi, Suárez and Neymar,” Australia’s No 1 says. “It would have been the night of my life.” Instead, it became one of the lowest moments of his career. Valencia were 3-0 down when Shkodran Mustafi was sent off shortly before half-time, but Barcelona showed no mercy. Leo Messi got a hat-trick, Luis Suárez scored four and Neville was sacked two months after that 7‑0 humiliation.