Ex-Blue realises Champions League dream

Ryan Brobbel celebrates a goal during his time at Whitby Town
Ryan Brobbel celebrates a goal during his time at Whitby Town

Just four months after leaving Whitby Town with the aim of playing Champions League football, Ryan Brobbel has realised his ambition.

The 23-year-old attacking midfielder departed the Turnbull Ground for Welsh side The New Saints in February, having made 18 appearances for the Blues, netting four goals.

And on Tuesday evening he was in the starting line-up as the Welsh Premier League champions beat Tre Penne of San Marino 2-1 in the first leg of their first qualifying round tie.

“It was a good experience as obviously the Champions League is the biggest club competition you can play in,” Brobbel said.

“Unfortunately, we didn’t quite get the result that we wanted, and although we won, we only have a one-goal lead to take into the away leg.

“They came and sat back but we still had our chances but failed to take them. Going over to San Marino and playing in 35-degree heat is going to be tough.”

Despite his disappointment at the closeness of the result, Brobbel says he is happy with how his time with TNS has gone to date.

“I’ve really been enjoying it here, I moved to TNS, like a lot of players do, for a chance to play European football and I’m hoping to play more of it,” he added.

“If we progress to the next round then we’ll be playing APOEL, who made it to the group stages of the competition last season.

“That would mean the chance to play in a 22,000 seater stadium and in front of a big crowd, which will be a great experience and quite different to what I was used to when I was at Whitby.”

Brobbel has already achieved a domestic league and cup double in his short spell with TNS, but had little time off between the end of the previous campaign and the start of 2016/17.

“Our season finished on May 2 and we were back for pre-season on May 23 because of how early Champions League qualification starts,” he continued.

“Only having three weeks off is tough, but it’s worth it for the chance to play European football.”