Defining a club legend: Where does Grant rank in Isuzu UTE A-League history?

The term club legend can be thrown about a bit too liberally at times. But in the case of Sydney FC stalwart Rhyan Grant, it is a moniker that most certainly applies.

Last week, Grant signed a contract extension that will keep the 33-year-old with the Sky Blues for a further two years, at least.

Grant is Sydney’s record appearance maker, with 319 in all competitions. Since he made his debut in 2008, the full-back has helped the club to four Championships and three Premierships.

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“It’s a great feeling to be re-signing,” Grant said after signing his contract extension. “As you get older, you question if you’re good enough and if the club wants you.

“This contract will take me to 35, so I’ll have to see how the body feels.

“Hopefully, I can play for a couple of years afterwards, but I definitely want to retire a one-club man.”

With 281 appearances in the Isuzu UTE A-League, Grant ranks 14th in the competition for all-time games played. With eight more appearances, he will overtake Matt Simon, Eugene Galekovic and Tarek Elrich as the trio all sit on 288.

When it comes to one-club men, Grant ranks behind only Leigh Broxham, who has made 383 A-League appearances for Melbourne Victory, and at the age of 36 is still going strong.

But what constitutes a club great? Is it match wins? Well, Grant is right up there, with 129 victories from his 281 matches for Sydney (45%) – a higher win rate than Broxham’s 42%.

Grant can also boast the same number of Championship (four) and Premierships (three) as Broxham, though the experienced Victory campaigner does have two Australia Cup medals to the Sydney FC defender’s one.

Andrew Durante is third on the all-time list for A-League appearances for a single side, having played 273 times for Wellington Phoenix, though he was never able to help them to a title.

A-League Men – Most Games For A Team
PlayerTeamGames Played
Leigh BroxhamMelbourne Victory383
Rhyan GrantSydney FC281
Andrew DuranteWellington Phoenix273
Matt McKayBrisbane Roar272
Jack HingertBrisbane Roar252
Eugene GalekovicAdelaide United238
John HutchinsonCentral Coast Mariners228
Isaías SánchezAdelaide United226
Archie ThompsonMelbourne Victory224
Alex BrosqueSydney FC222

On Sunday, Grant celebrated his new contract by setting up Robert Mak’s opener in a 1-1 draw with Brisbane Roar.

That was his 24th assist in the league since the start of the 2012-13 season, when Opta began collecting such data. It was his second assist of the campaign – an accurate cross from just inside the area, after he had made a supporting run from deep. 

Since the start of the 2012-13 campaign, there has only been one year in which he did not provide at least one assist, and that came in 2013-14 after managing only three appearances.

An attacking full-back by trade, Grant explained how Sydney’s style of play under head coach Ufuk Talay suits him down to the ground.

“We’ve been doing really well and playing some good football, which has gone hand-in-hand [with the goalscoring],” Grant said, crediting Talay.

“How we play suits my game, where you can be on the front foot and on the throat of the opposition. I love the way we are playing and the vision for the club is a major factor of why I wanted to stay.”

Sydney’s high press has been a large part of their success under Talay. They have forced 247 high turnovers (winning the ball back within 40 yards of the opponent’s goal) – 38 more than any other side, with 40 of those resulting in a shot and four of them creating a goal. Their 12.35 high turnover average per game is up from 8.13 last season.

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Grant is playing a key role. 

He has featured in 19 league games, scoring three goals – matching his tally from 2016-17, which is his best return since the start of 2012-13. He has created 16 chances – the eighth-best total of any defender in the league. He also ranks eighth for shots (17).

But Grant is, of course, primarily a defender. 

His 205 duels rank fourth out of A-League defenders this season, while he is second for attempted tackles (50), with a commendable 64% success rate. Only three defenders in this campaign’s competition – Tomoki Imai (112), Joshua Risdon (106) and Marcelo (104) – have won possession more times than Grant (101).

Across the past 11 seasons (including this one), Grant averages a 55% duel success rate and has won an impressive 71% of tackles made.

As far as club greats go, Grant more than fits the bill. And given his form this campaign, there is no reason this contract has to be his last with Sydney.

At the very least, he is guaranteed two more years. The way Sydney are going this season, and with Grant playing a crucial role, another title is definitely not out of touch for the one-club hero.

Grant and Sydney FC take on the Wellington Phoenix this weekend in Auckland. Get your tickets to the Isuzu UTE A-League here.