Mathew Ryan found it difficult to catch Jose Izquierdo.

Not like in his debut season for Albion in the Premier League. The Australian keeper has caught pretty much everything else.

Former FC Brugge team-mate Izquierdo was more of a challenge when he sprinted the length of the pitch after his wonder strike against West Ham at the Amex last Saturday.

The gregarious Ryan enjoys joining in with Albion's goal celebrations as much as staying behind at the end of games to pose for pictures with fans and sign autographs.

His fleet-footed Colombian colleague was hard to match strides with.

"I saw a few responses," Ryan joked. "Everyone was saying I've got to do a better job, but I caught him in the end. I thought I did quite well!

"I was very happy for him. We've obviously got a bit of history, playing together in Belgium.

"A goal like that, I was never going to let him celebrate it alone. It was nice to enjoy that moment."

Ryan has another match to enjoy at Stoke today, another challenge against a top goalkeeper who, like the Australian, will be heading off to the World Cup in the summer once the dust has settled on the Premier League relegation fight.

Jack Butland (below) could be England's No.1 in Russia. Going head-to-head against many of the world's best custodians is among the reasons Ryan joined Albion from Valencia in the summer.

The Argus: He said: "It was one of the points mentioned by my agent when Brighton first came around.

"Part of the process of coming to England was the quality of goalkeepers. In his opinion the highest quality of goalkeepers in the world.

"You look at them here and you've got some of the best goalkeepers going.

"Every game pulling on that shirt and going out there, who ever we are facing, it's nice to see who you are coming up against.

"When you come up against these guys I like to approach the game as a match-up against them and then at the end to see how the performances compared with the guys who have been around a long time and young talents.

"It's one of the things in the goalkeepers' union that we look at."

Ryan's consistently dependable form has helped Albion to the best defensive record of the bottom 12 clubs in the Premier League. They have also conceded the same number of goals (35) as Arsenal in sixth and Leicester in eighth.

The 25-year-old from Plumpton in Sydney (not East Sussex), has benefited from the regular game time he lacked in La Liga with Valencia and an insatiable desire to keep on improving.

He said: "It's something I have been striving to achieve since I was getting my first taste of playing at the highest level in World Cup (qualifiers) and international games and Europa League against big teams.

"I was just craving to get into an environment of playing in a League where, week in, week out, you will be playing against the best teams and the best players. I am really thriving off that and the environment around me.

"Everything I have achieved up to now, whether it be a good game or an award I have won, I try to take it in but there is always going to be something more to achieve - the next game, the next trophy, better win, higher position in the table.

"I am always trying to enjoy it for the little moment, the little bit of success, but at the same time wanting to push on with the opportunity here.

"There are still a few games remaining this season. I think it would be a real shame if I can't finish it off in similar fashion, still continue to learn and get better.

"I am quite pleased with my contribution until now and I am hoping I can remain consistent and contribute to us hopefully having a second season in the Premier League."

The Argus: Ryan has been so reliable that Dutchman Tim Krul (above), who made more than 150 appearances for Newcastle in the Premier League, and Finnish international Niki Maenpaa have been restricted to fleeting appearances in the FA Cup, Carabao Cup and Football League Trophy.

Ryan said: "That's playing at the highest level. The opposition you are playing against and the squad you have here, the competition for places, experienced guys that have played at international level.

"The relationship between myself and Tim and Niki is one of the best. We respect each other's work.

"Back in the day and still sometimes today you hear of goalkeepers in teams not getting along, causing problems, but there is none of that here.

"Whether it is me, Tim or Niki playing, the two that aren't playing always try to help the guy who is, to enable him to be in the best shape he can be phsyically and mentally.

"It is a happy environment here for goalkeepers. That is a paramount to the club being in the position it is, everyone keeping everyone on their toes to perform."