Ryall's fond memories of Victory

Sebastian Ryall still remembers the torrent of abuse and the cups being hurled in his direction by the opposition fans.

Sebastian Ryall still remembers the torrent of abuse and the smell of beer from the cups that were being hurled in his direction by the opposition fans.

His current club Sydney FC were playing his former club Melbourne Victory in a crucial game for both club's finals chances at AAMI Park on Australia Day last year.

The Victory were leading 2-1 and the fans were letting one of their former players - who had the temerity to move to their fiercest rivals - know all about it.

As a substitute for the Sky Blues that day, Ryall had nowhere to hide.

He was forced to warm-up right in front of the vociferous Victory supporters group who weren't going to miss out on the opportunity to sledge a player who had crossed to the "dark side".

It's why what happened next still rates as one of the highlights of the defender's impressive career, even considering he had two A-League championship-winning medals in his back pocket before his 21st birthday.

Ryall was called off the bench late in the match and popped up with his first-ever A-League goal, a last-minute equaliser to steal a point for Sydney FC and silence those hecklers.

"It took me 80-something games to get my first goal but there was no better way to do it than against our enemy, so to speak," Ryall recalled of that goal this week.

"I'd just come on and I think it was just my second touch of the ball.

"What made it more special was at that ground you warm up in front of the away fans there which is different to every other stadium.

"I absolutely copped it all match warming up as you can imagine. There was beers being thrown at me and you can imagine what sort of stick I copped.

"So to come on and score was pretty satisfying.

"It's a year on now and things have changed but I'll never forget that day."

While he may be public enemy no.1 with Victory supporters now, Ryall said he has nothing but fond memories of his two seasons at the club.

Signed by Ernie Merrick fresh out of the AIS, Ryall adapted quickly to life in the A-League and as a teenager was part of the club's second title success.

And that goal against his former club has drifted back into Ryall's mind a few times this week ahead of the next instalment of the Big Blue on Saturday night.

Victory fans won't have the opportunity to get as close to the 23-year-old this time around, with Ryall now a consistent starter in Frank Farina's recalibrated Sydney.

Despite being a key member of the Sky Blues' title winning side in 2010, the versatile back never truly won over former coach Vitezslav Lavicka.

Ryall started in just 18 games over the next two seasons in what was a frustrating period for him.

Given more game time and responsibility this campaign, the Sydney-born defender feels he's gone to a new level and in the best form of his young career.

"Compared to last year it's been a massive turnaround. I really never got the opportunity last year to play under Vitja (Lavicka)," Ryall said.

"It's just been really refreshing to have a new coach come in, with a fresh attitude towards training and everything.

"A lot of people have forgotten it's my fourth year here now. I won the championship here and played in a grand final that we won.

"While last year was obviously very frustrating and I'm really just appreciative of the opportunity I've been given now.

"Both the coaches (Ian Crook and Farina) that have been in charge, I feel like I've improved a lot and really enjoying my football at the moment."

With the ink still drying on a two-year contract extension at the club, things couldn't be better for Ryall and he's extremely excited by what the future holds.

"I'm so happy to stay here and I didn't want to go to any other club," he said.

"I've grown up here, my friends and family are here and I love the city.

"And just to see the club now, not just having Alessandro (Del Piero) here but it's such an enjoyable team to play for and I absolutely love it."

After representing Australia at both under-20 and under-23 level, Ryall would love to one day graduate to senior international and believes the environment in Sydney will improve his cause.

"It helps to see players like Jason Culina and Brett Emerton around the club," he said.

"It's good to have them because you see how hard you have to work every single day to get to that level.

"It's a very hard thing to do and I understand how hard it is to work to get to there but every player harbours ambitions to do it and I'm no different."

And if he does eventually crack the green and gold maybe then those Victory supporters will be back cheering for him again.