You couldn’t be blamed for being sceptical of the claim that the next “best goalie in the world” is playing for mid-table Scottish Premiership side Ross County.
However, that is the opinion held by veteran Premier League shot-stopper Rob Elliot, who when posed the question of who would be the world’s next best goalkeeper in Ben Foster’s podcast, named Ashley Maynard-Brewer as his choice.
Elliot had spent a few weeks at Charlton Athletic following his release from Newcastle United, and was impressed by Maynard-Brewer in training, who was at the time sat on the bench for the Addicks.
The young Western Australian had come through the academy at the South London club after joining from ECU Joondalup in 2015. Following a number of loan spells in the English non-league, he is now getting his first taste of regular professional football out on loan at Ross County.
Speaking to Kick360, Maynard-Brewer says he is “chuffed” to receive such a glowing endorsement.
“I had a few mates from back home tag me in that straight away,” Maynard-Brewer smiles. “As a young goalkeeper who hasn’t played a lot of matches to hear Rob, who has been at Newcastle United in the Premier League for 10 years or so, say those nice things was pretty cool.”
Maynard-Brewer’s move north across the border has been a good experience for the 22-year-old, as he adjusts to playing week-in, week-out.
“I’ve enjoyed getting games against really good opposition, and I’ve learned a lot,” Maynard Brewer continues. “It was hard to go from 12-18 months of not playing to games where you’re in pressure situations.
“We had a really busy period of fixtures in November/December, I think we had nine games in the space of a month. I found it really hard to play 90 minutes where you’re trying really hard and keeping extra focused, and then recover and train to do it all again three or four days later. However, it’s definitely put me in good stead going forward for the future.”
The move to Ross County came about following Maynard-Brewer’s selection for the Olyroos’ Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games campaign, something that he didn’t even expect to be a part of.
“I had a good few weeks in a pre-tournament training camp in Spain. Tony Franken, the goalkeeper coach, really helped me a lot and then I got selected two weeks later. There were a lot of COVID restrictions but that aside, it was great to be a part of.
We got there pretty early so it was five weeks in hotels, which was tough. There was a good group of guys there, two of whom are now playing with Hearts in Cammy Devlin and Natty Atkinson, so that helped me through that, and it helps that we were working towards something. It was still really tough at times though, being in such a strict environment.”
The experience only motivated Maynard-Brewer further in his drive to achieve his dream of becoming a Socceroo.
“I keep in good contact with Tony and John Crawley. I know that if I continue to play games and progress in the UK, I think I’ll get to the point where I get to go over and be a part of that. It’s definitely a goal of mine.”
The ambition doesn’t stop there, and after a remarkable last 12 months of experiences the Maynard-Brewer is more confident that his career can go a lot further.
“I have the belief I can play in the Premier League and become a top goalie, but I don’t think it was until this year that I truly thought I could do it.
“The last few years, being in and around the Charlton team and watching Dillon Phillips, Ben Amos and Jed Steer play, there’s a big difference between what you’re doing in training to in games, so it wasn’t until coming up here to play games that I could be in those high-pressure moments. Actually coming through and seeing the results, I realise now I can progress and kick on.”
Looking ahead to next season though, Maynard-Brewer expects to return to Charlton for the opportunity to fight for the no.1 jersey at the League One club.
“Charlton said to me as soon as I went up here that it wasn’t a case of going out on loan to not be part of the team. They want me to get games and then come back and assert myself as a first team goalkeeper. Next year I think I’ll be back trying to get my foot in the door and into that starting 11.”