Enjoying rapid progress in his domestic career, Mat Ryan has been linked with Real Madrid and is Australia's first-choice goalkeeper, but he will have to perform even better than usual if Australia are to even get close to qualifying from their group.
In 2013, Mat Ryan was still playing for Central Coast Mariners. Three years before then, he was with the Australian minnows Blacktown City. Last season, he completed a move to the slightly better known team, but still relatively small, Club Brugge in Belgium. Now he finds himself at the World Cup.
After moving in May 2013 to Belgium, Ryan made such an impressive start to the season that he was awarded another, improved contract in December that year.
Rumours have begun to circulate that he has started to interest some of the biggest clubs in Europe with the quality of his performances in the Belgian league - Graham Arnold, his former coach, appeared on television linking him with Real Madrid. Things, apparently, have not come that far, as confirmed in a recent article in The Times, but it is clear that more established clubs have started to take notice of his abilities.
None of this will come as a surprise to those who follow Australian football. In 2011 and 2012, Ryan was voted Australia's young player of the year. In 2012, Ryan added to this award with an international debut against Saudi Arabia. With six further appearances for the national side, Ryan has established himself as Australia's first-choice goalkeeper.
He will face the biggest test of his career against Chile today, but things will not get easier from there. If he is selected for the other matches in the qualifying stage, he will also face Spain and Holland's finest. From going from the best the Australian and Belgian leagues have to offer, he is now up against players like Arjen Robben, Robin van Persie, Andres Iniesta and Diego Costa. If he wants to impress Real Madrid, then he could do far worse than to put in impressive performances against such players. He would not be the first player to secure a major transfer off the back of a strong showing in an international tournament - just ask Karel Poborsky.
Playing for smaller teams has, though, given Ryan an advantage that most goalkeepers his age are not able to enjoy. At just 22, he has already played in 160 games. They might not have come against the most demanding opposition, but nevertheless he will be able to rely on reserves of experience that plenty of younger players are nowhere near accruing.
Ryan's toughest challenge might not be anything to do with his ability, but the talents of those around him. Australia are not the side they used to be, with Tim Cahill still their best player despite his advancing years, and a relative poverty of younger players capable of taking over. Chile are Australia's, and Ryan's, best chances of three World Cup points in what could be a dispiriting campaign.