A late winner and a hat-trick were enough for the English media to heap praise on 25-year-old forward Ryan Debattista.
Debattista, whose father is Maltese, is currently on the books of ninth-tier side Cobham whom he is spearheading with his number of goals that he has been scoring in every competition this season.
In one of their recent games, played on December 12 against Raynes Park Vale, Debattista scored a hat-trick which propelled Cobham to a 5-3 victory.
“With my hat-trick, I have scored five goals in the last three games for Cobham which include a late winner in the FA Vase as well,” Debattista told the Times of Malta.
Debattista’s late winner came against Risborough Rangers whom they had lost to in an FA Cup tie earlier in the season.
“Before going into a lockdown, we had faced Risborough Rangers in an FA Cup tie and we had lost 3-1, where I scored Cobham’s goal,” Debattista explained.
“I am glad that we managed to have our revenge and beat them in the FA Vase, with a late winner of mine which caught the attention of the Non-League newspaper as well.”
Debattista explained that at Cobham he managed to integrate quickly and that is one of the reasons why he is in a rich vein of goals.
“Funnily enough, I never had a position set on the field of play when I was younger before I got to Barnet at 17 years old, where I started to play as a forward,” Debattista explained.
“At Cobham, I am having a good run of games where I can express my talent and this means a lot to me.
“I am at the back of several injuries which hampered my career so taking centre stage at Cobham with goals and assists has boosted my confidence as well.”
Meanwhile, Debattista recalls how he started to get interested into football at the age of 10, where due to his height he was often considered to be older than he is.
“This image of me meant that at 15 I was already playing senior football at lower levels, before being picked by Maidenhead United,” Debattista said.
“At 17, I went to Barnet where while I was playing for their youth teams, there was Luke Gambin with the first team with whom I also had the opportunity to train as well… before we both knew that we were actually Maltese.”
After getting released from Barnet, Debattista switched from professional to semi-professional and since then he has been juggling between his daily job and keeping himself in shape.
Prior to Cobham, he had experiences at several clubs including Basingtoke and AFC Hayes where he always managed to leave his mark with his numerous goals.
Debattista also pointed out that with the coronavirus pandemic, this year has provided a lot of unprecedented challenges but nonetheless he and the team remained focus.
“With the coronavirus measures constantly changing, it is a challenging time for us as players,” he underlined.
“At the moment, Surrey – where Cobham is located – is classified as a tier 2 zone by the government, which means that we can still train as a group and host a number of fans as we try to edge closer to normality.”
Debattista’s passion for football has surely come from his father who used to play in Malta.
Having lived in San Ġwann, John, Ryan’s father, played for different clubs including San Ġwann and Tarxien Rainbows, with whom he won promotion to the Premier League in 1985/1986.
At the Rainbows, Debattista played alongside the likes of Jesmond Zerafa who later on his career went on to win every domestic silverware at Valletta.
“I still got family in Malta and we often travel over there whenever we have the opportunity – we hope that we go through this pandemic situation so that we can reunite with our Maltese relatives as well,” Ryan said.
Moreover, the Cobham forward explained how back in 2013 he had the chance to represent Malta at U-19’s level in the European Championships qualifications against Russia, Estonia and Ukraine.
However, his passport took longer than expected and Debattista missed the chance to be part of the national team selection in a tournament that could have contributed a lot to the progress of his career.