Ryan backs 'good friend' Ibini

Mat Ryan says he is stoked to have close friend Bernie Ibini join him at Club Brugge and believes his fellow Australian can make his mark on the Belgian side.

Ibini, who spent the 2014-2015 A-League season on loan at Sydney FC, has signed a three-year deal at Club Brugge.

The 22-year-old banged in seven goals in 28 appearances in an impressive campaign for the Sky Blues, helping them to the grand final.

“It’s well known we’ve been good friends for some time,” Ryan told FourFourTwo.
 
“It’s recognition of the great season he’s had in Australia. I keep in regular contact and I’m always trying to look at the highlights in Australia.

"He had a great season, especially towards the end of the season, setting up a lot of goals and scoring them himself.

“It’s very nice that Club Brugge have worked out to sign him and I’m looking forward to a relationship as colleagues in the future again.”

Ibini and Ryan both grew up in western Sydney, playing for Blacktown City, and then both joined the Central Coast Mariners in 2009 as they lived together in a caravan.

The pair trialled with Club Brugge back in 2013.

Ibini and Ryan have also played in the Olyroos and Socceroos together and remain close.

“I’ve probably been playing against him from the age of 10, 11 years old,” Ryan said.

“We went to Westfield Sports High School at the same time, I was the year above him though. We probably didn’t become close until he came to Blacktown, which was under-15s or under-16s.

“From there it started and kept flourishing and we’ve got similar interests in things and similar approaches to football and to life. With every day our relationship got stronger and stronger.

“I’m happy to say he’s still one of my best mates today even though there was a lot of long distance between us.”

Ryan has enjoyed a fantastic two seasons in Belgium, winning several awards and the Belgian Cup this year.

The Socceroo goalkeeper said he didn’t recommend Ibini to the club but expects the dynamic forward to do well at the Jan Breydel Stadium.

“The club didn’t ask me, it was all his doing,” Ryan said.

“They might have asked my agent about him, because it’s the same agent that brought him on trial and it’s the same agent I have. I guess maybe perhaps an experiment in terms of signing me as an unknown, they’ve tried to take the same approach on a good player from Australia again.

“I’ve got some confidence in Bernie and his ability, I know what he can do. I know at Club Brugge he can come in there and do great things for them."