2020 may have been one of the worst years in history due to the coronavirus pandemic which affected the progress of the entire world.
However, the last year has been a splendid one for Malta midfielder Teddy Teuma.
The 27-year-old player, one of the new faces in the national team led by Devis Mangia, has been in inspiring form both for club and country.
Teuma is currently on the books of Belgium’s second-tier side Royale Union Saint-Gilloise, of whom he is captain and a popular figure as well.
The 2020-21 have seen his side dominating the Proximus League, Belgium’s second-tier, with 44 points chalked up in 18 outings. They lead second-place RFC Seraing by eight points as they march towards a much-expected promotion.
“2020 has been a beautiful year in terms of football and it’s just a shame to have this pandemic as it deprives us from enjoying it in a proper way,” Teuma told the Times of Malta.
“This season is going really well at my club as we are leading the championship but at the same time we must remain concentrated and approach each game with the same focus and desire to win.”
Teuma has scored two goals and five assists in this campaign with his club, making it seven goals and 15 assists in his 61 appearances for Royale Union.
Royale’s rich vein of form in the league help them secure an upset in the cup as well after last week they saw off top-flight side Mouscron following a 2-1 comeback win on home soil.
“We want to compare our level with the teams from the top-flight, even against the best of the lot as we want to prove ourselves,” Teuma explained.
“We saw that against Mouscron we could compete against these good teams and that is why we work hard every single day, to earn promotion and battle against these top clubs.
“We are not far from reaching that level, but we still have to progress and continue to aim higher.”
Teuma heaped praise on his team mates as he described them as a very motivated group who despite the difficult conditions created by the coronavirus pandemic, they remained committed to the ambitions of the club.
Their reward in the round of 16 will be a high-profile Brussels derby against giants Anderlecht, whom they will face tonight (kick-off: 20.45).
In the previous round, Anderlecht defeated FC Liege 2-0 with one of the scorers being Paul Mukairu, formerly of Ta’ Xbiex in Malta’s fourth-tier.
In the early years of Belgian football, Royale Union and Anderlecht used to feud with each other before Club Brugge took centre stage in the post-war period with their fierce rivalry against Anderlecht.
Royale Union’s last competitive meeting against Anderlecht goes back to 2018 when at this stage of the competition, Royale stunned their rivals 3-0 thanks to a Youssouf Niakate hat-trick.
Anderlecht, winners of the league on 34 occasions, are currently fourth on 41 points as Club Brugge look set to clinch the title. The last cup success for Anderlecht, who won this trophy nine times, dates back to 2007/2008 and they will be striving to at least add one silverware to their cabinet this season.
“This game is very important for the fans and for the club,” Teuma said.
“We are in the round of the last 16 of the cup as this match is one of the biggest derbies in this country.
“This whole group of players wants to prove themselves and measure ourselves against a top side like Anderlecht, who we respect a lot of course!”
For club and country
Teuma has been one of the masterminds not only in Belgium, but also with Malta as he was one of the most influential figures in the recent positive streak in the UEFA Nations League that transcended the general public behind the team.
Undoubtedly, the French-born midfielder has played a key role in lifting the spirits of the Malta environment and helping the national team to record seven straight positive results, including a last-gasp 1-0 win away at Latvia.
“So far, the experience with Malta has been excellent,” Teuma underlined.
“I am coming out of age and it’s up to me to do my best in order to progress, grow and help the team reach its objectives.”
Despite he is still looking for his first national team goal, coming close on a handful occasions having also struck the woodwork in the 3-1 home win against Andorra, Teuma has been influential with his creative play in the midfield department.
His exploit on the international stage has already made him one of the fan favourites and Teuma is keen to repay the supporters’ trust in him with more good displays.
“The Maltese people gave me a very warm welcome,” the Royale captain said.
“I have received a lot of positive messages on my social media profiles, with one of the messages being ‘Teddy Teuma, our new legend’.”
“Such message warmed my heart and I would really like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their support, and hopefully we can play in front of the fans as soon as possible.
“Malta has been kind to me and I would like to travel back to the country, not only to play but also to visit the island.”