WHEN Rhyan Grant talks about how lucky he is to be playing for the Socceroos at the Asian Cup, the talented defender knows the operative word is most definitely lucky.
While he is currently preparing with his Australian team-mates for their round of 16 showdown with Uzbekistan, Grant knows how fortunate it is he is to be playing at all.
The Bathurst District Football Association product revealed on PlayersVoice he almost drowned at Collaroy when going for a surf in the pre-season.
He went out in big swell and after realising this and trying to paddle back to the beach, he struck trouble.
A wave slammed him into a storm water pipe which extends into the surf zone, Grant then being caught underneath that pipe. His leg rope was tangled around a metal support pole.
Grant admitted he thought “This is it”.
“I was pretty frantic, as you can imagine, fighting to get up for a breath, but I couldn’t reach my ankle to get free because the surf was pushing my leg in the opposite direction to the rest of my body,” Grant revealed.
“I don’t know how long I was under that pipe but, after a while, the fight just went out of me. It seemed impossible. I gave up. I stopped fighting.
“I know that might sound exaggerated or heavy, but I did. I stopped trying to swim to the top. Everything went peaceful and quiet under the water. I got ready to just let it happen.
“And then something happened that I can’t explain: my leg rope snapped. I got spat out on the other side of the pipe and washed down the beach.”
While Grant was left with a “little fracture” in his arm, he knows how close he came to meeting a tragic end.
“I am lucky to be representing the Socceroos at this Asian Cup. I’m lucky to be alive at all,” he said.
Luck certainly played a role for Grant that day, but as for earning a place in the Socceroos’ Asian Cup squad, hard work was the big factor.
An anterior cruciate ligament rupture sidelined him for almost the entire 2017-18 A-League season, but Grant worked hard on his recovery.
He earned back his spot in Sydney FC’s starting line-up, impressed enough to be invited to train with the Socceroos squad and from there forced his way into the playing group which headed to the United Arab Emirates for the Asian Cup.
He came off the bench in the first match to replace Josh Risdon on the right side of the Socceroos’ defence.
While Australia lost that match 1-0 against Jordan, Grant impressed. With a groin injury ruling out Risdon for the remaining pool games, he got the nod to start.
Grant was again solid as the Socceroos beat Palestine 3-0 then Syria 3-2 to keep their Asian Cup defence alive.
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While the more experienced Risdon is a chance to be fit for Tuesday morning’s (AEDST) clash with Uzbekistan, Grant’s form means coach Graham Arnold will not have an easy decision.
Uzbekistan and Australia have met on three previous occasions, the Socceroos having won each time.
Even if Grant is shuffled back to the bench he is relishing the chance to just be part of the national squad.
“To be part of it here and really be amongst it and to be on the pitch when we get to celebrate stuff like that [beating Syria], it’s pretty cool,” he said.
“It’s been huge, obviously I hadn’t played for the Socceroos until a couple of months ago. It’s happened pretty quick and pretty fast, but I’m just embracing it, enjoying very chance I get and trying to make the most of it.
“Just very happy to be here and the game time is a bit of a bonus. So far so good.”
The match will kick off at 1am Tuesday morning at Khalifa Bin Zayed Stadium, with the victor to move on to face either United Arab Emirates or Kyrgyzstan.