Ryan spurred on by Australia's 2011 woe
He rode every challenge, every shot and felt the pain of defeat when Tadanari Lee's late volley gave the Japanese a 1-0 extra-time win.
Never did Ryan think he could be in that very position but just four years on the in-form gloveman is now between the sticks for Australia and has played a huge part in why they are back in an Asian Cup decider.
South Korea in front of a full house at ANZ Stadium now stand between Australia and redemption.
"It is a bit surreal, sometimes I go to sleep thinking I'm representing my country here in a massive tournament and playing as the number one here…it's mind blowing," Ryan told reporters on Thursday.
"You dream of it as a kid and at my age to be achieving something like that is a great feeling.
"I actually saw the highlights (from 2011) a couple of weeks back when it was on and we had some free time here in camp in the afternoon.
"We had a number of chances that night but for whatever reason it wasn't meant to be. I felt the disappointment for the team but four years down the track now we're back in the final and hopefully we can switch the result from that night."
Ryan, who has been in superb touch the entire tournament conceding just twice, claimed the team's defensive improvement is down to every single player sticking to their job.
But they have one hurdle still to jump on Saturday night before they will consider the job done.
Ryan confirmed he's likely to do some extra vide work in the lead-up to the final, studying South Korea's penalty takers in case a shootout is required.
"We normally do the penalty taking practice the day before the game as we have before every knockout game and we take advantage of technology and study some of the takers from previous games for Korea," he said.
"I'm sure that they know we look at things and whether they alter some things also.
"Hopefully it won't come to that. I have full belief in the squad we'll get the victory in normal time but if it does happen hopefully I can be there at the end of the day. In the moment you just need a bit of luck and hopefully it goes Australia's way."
Ryan's eye-catching performances have not gone unnoticed, with Premier League giants Liverpool reportedly keeping tabs on Australia's number one.
"It's very flattering to have my name involved with a big team like that but my mind is on the job here," Ryan said.
"I've been focusing on the job here and I would love to be lifting the trophy on Saturday. I'm very happy at my club in Belgium, Club Brugge, also and, if it's meant to be, something will happen in the future."