David Raya exclusive: Brentford goalkeeper on his Premier League-topping attacking stats and Spain hopes

“The worst thing about London is the traffic. It’s just everywhere. You go six miles, it takes 45 minutes. It’s mad.”

David Raya is sort of positively an adopted Londoner. Partly due to his robust views on the state of the town’s roads, and partly as a result of a western nook of the capital has lastly helped him to fulfil a childhood dream.

The 26-year-old has waited a very long time to fulfill the Premier League ambition his father stoked in him as a baby after they pored over the English high flight collectively of their Barcelona house. He left Spain in 2012 to signal apprenticeship phrases with Blackburn – who in flip had been promptly relegated from the highest flight – and, 9 years on, has lastly turned the dream right into a actuality alongside a Brentford fanbase for whom reaching this stage has been quite longer within the offing.

“It took a while to sink in that we’d been promoted,” he tells Sky Sports. “Coming in for pre-season, seeing the badges on the shirts and around the club it started to feel like a reality, and then that Arsenal game, the build-up to it, the team meeting, it finally hit me. Walking down the tunnel, seeing them lining up alongside us, it really hit me that this was it, the big deal.”

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For a person who hates site visitors Raya hasn’t needed to cope with an excessive amount of this season contemplating the Bees are embarking on their first season within the high tier for greater than seven many years. Their expected-goals-against tally is decrease than Liverpool’s, and their keeper has saved three clear sheets in his first seven matches in what has change into the joint-best begin of any promoted aspect since Hull City in 2008.

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It would now not appear such a serious shock had been they to upset Champions League winners Chelsea of their subsequent sport on Saturday, stay on Sky Sports Premier League from 5pm.

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After a formidable begin to life as a Premier League primary, we have a look again at how David Raya helped Brentford attain the highest division.

After Raya’s earlier tv outing final month, Liverpool supervisor Jurgen Klopp prompt the Bees No 1 ought to have a No 10 on his again following a breathless 3-3 draw, with Raya’s pinpoint passing instrumental in constructing the assaults which noticed the Reds concede thrice in a league sport for the primary time since February.

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Ask the common individual on the road to call a Brentford participant and Ivan Toney’s identify will crop up most of the time, though the goalkeeper is beginning to carve out his personal popularity exterior the borough of Hounslow.

In the world of the inelegantly named ‘sweeper keeper regains’ statistics, roughly translating because the variety of occasions a goalkeeper has come off his line and gained possession for his staff, Raya tops the charts throughout the Premier League. No goalkeeper comes near rivalling the variety of passes he has accomplished into the ultimate third, both. Sooner or later opposition sides will cotton on, however for now the component of shock is paying off, simply as it’s for his staff.

“It’s just the style we play, we’ve always relied on it,” he says. “Teams don’t tend to press the goalkeeper as much, so I have a bit more time than the centre-backs.

“It’s one thing we have labored out we will create probabilities from, throughout the final two seasons, by means of me being courageous and with the ability to pick the participant who won’t rating, however will go on to create an opportunity.

“We play with a high line and don’t play offsides, so it relies on me to have a really good starting position to not concede from counter-attacks. When I first arrived it took a few games getting used to, but then it clicked and it’s worked brilliantly.”

It takes some actual religion in your personnel to play that form of risk-reward soccer within the transition, and self-belief is excessive on the checklist of Thomas Frank’s priorities at Brentford, as he informed Sky Sports final month.

It’s that confidence which, apart from Brentford’s technical qualities, has maybe performed the largest half of their early-season success. It was born as they noticed off 4 Premier League golf equipment en path to final season’s Carabao Cup semi-finals, and grew by means of Frank’s resolution to belief in his aspect throughout a summer time which noticed simply three first-team signings added to his squad.

“It’s been a dream start for us,” Raya says. “But it’s in the character of the team, the DNA, to try to compete against everybody. We showed that last year, in that cup run. We took that as a sign that we were able to compete in this league; we were already beating a few teams from the Premier League.

“Knowing the connection I’ve already with the defenders is admittedly necessary. I do know kind of the place they will be, and vice versa. And the one defender who has are available, Kristoffer Ajer, his adaptation has been unimaginable.”

In distinction to his success on the pitch, the final 18 months have been the hardest in Raya’s profession to this point. He remains to be near his household, and the Covid-19 pandemic, lockdowns and journey bans left him extra separated from his dad and mom and household again in Barcelona than at another time in his life.

That might have made the error he made for Fulham’s opening purpose within the 2020 play-off ultimate defeat, which put paid to Brentford and Raya’s Premier League hopes for a yr, all of the harder to abdomen had been he not so strong-willed.

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Brentford’s win over West Ham within the Premier League.

“It didn’t affect me,” he says. “I was angry with myself because I should’ve been a bit more switched on, but if you see other games I have done the same thing. I wish it happened in another game rather than one so big, but we didn’t play the way we should have played.

“We solely had 13 days off after that sport, however that itself was a bizarre scenario. I could not go house due to Covid, I could not see my household, could not see anybody. It would’ve been simpler if I had my household round. It’s been the hardest interval I’ve had in England with out going house. Missing house, being homesick was not a very good expertise.”

Now the Premier League dream has been realised, subsequent on the agenda is breaking into the Spanish squad.

Image:
David Raya was caught out at his close to submit by a Joe Bryan free-kick as Fulham beat Brentford at Wembley in 2020

There was a time when taking part in for Brentford would have made that troublesome, however occasions are altering. Brighton’s Robert Sanchez made his worldwide debut for Luis Enrique earlier this yr, Raya has an actual probability to stake his personal declare for a spot.

“I relate to [Sanchez], we’ve had a similar career,” Raya says. “He got into the Premier League earlier, but it shows what football can do for you. Even going on loan to lower divisions and non-league, it gives hope to players that they can still make it. You see players like us, or Jamie Vardy, that are getting to the maximum level.

“It’d be a dream come true to signify my nation, each participant would like to do it. It’s one other factor I’ve at all times needed to do, so let’s have a look at what occurs.”

As a proud Spanish footballer, it would feel remiss to finish the interview without gauging Raya’s opinion on Kylian Mbappe’s controversial winner against Spain in the Nations League on Sunday night. “Yeah,” he replies, puffing out his cheeks, earlier than muttering an expletive. Enough mentioned.

Essential Football Podcast: Newcastle’s new period begins | Secrets to Brentford’s success | Next steps for Everton, West Ham

Peter Smith is joined by Sky Sports News reporter Keith Downie, in addition to assistant information editor Lyall Thomas and soccer journalist Ron Walker to sit up for the Premier League weekend…

PART 1 | Keith Downie solutions the important thing questions concerning the Newcastle takeover, from switch spending and how the brand new house owners intend to take the membership forwards to points round human rights in Saudi Arabia.

PART 2 | Lyall Thomas and Ron Walker raise the lid on the story behind Brentford’s spectacular begin to their first Premier League season and the secrets and techniques behind their regular progress in recent times.

PART 3 | As David Moyes prepares to take his present membership to face his former membership, we talk about the following steps for West Ham and Everton – and the affect Rafa Benitez has had at Goodison Park.

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