Teddy Teuma is upbeat on Union Saint-Gilloise’s chances of advancing in the UEFA Champions League as they face Rangers in the third qualifying round second leg tonight.
The Malta international inspired Union to a famous 2-0 win over the Scottish side in last week’s first leg played at Leuven.
Teuma opened the score in the first half in what was Union’s first European goal since 1962.
1962 was also the year in which Union recorded their final victory in a European competition before beating Rangers last Tuesday.
“Last week’s game was a huge source of pride for me and for my team,” Teuma told RTL Sport on Monday.
“Scoring a goal against a huge team like Rangers was emotional for me and I dedicate it to my wife, children, parents and whoever has supported me from the beginning.
That goal was an acknowledgement to them.”
Just five years ago, Teuma was on the books of Boulogne-sur-Mer in France’s third division and now he has the opportunity to spearhead his team into the chief UEFA club competition.
“I have traveled an atypical course,” Teuma said.
“But I have always believed in myself that I could make a difference in professional football even though if you had told me five years ago that I would be playing at Ibrox, I would not have believed it.
“Nonetheless, here I stand now and I see it as a nice revenge against the people who did not believe in me.
Helping my father as a meat deliverer from 4am to 1pm has forged the strong character I have today.”
Captain of this Union side, Teuma was praised for his leadership and performance in his club’s Champions League debut.
Teuma, who at Union has produced 28 assists and 18 goals 116 games, has been a key figure at the Belgian club with whom he won promotion to the top-flight two seasons ago and almost led them to a surprising title triumph in the following campaign.
His performances are not unnoticed as he has recently been linked with Belgium’s Standard Liege and also with Stade Reims, who play in France’s Ligue 1.
Reports have said that Teuma’s value is around four million euros and that both clubs are still mulling an offer for him.
“I have read about the interest, but I am not going to talk too much about that now,” Teuma said.
“I remain focus on Union, even though it is true that I still want to ‘grow’ and to keep progressing despite already being 28 years old.”
Union are called to emulate the home performance as they eye a play-off berth where they would face one between Monaco and PSV Eindhoven.
The Rangers victory seemed to have taken a toll on Union after losing 3-0 to K.V. Mechelen in the Belgian championship over the weekend.
Nonetheless, captain Teuma believes that his team mates are relishing the opportunity to play Rangers at Ibrox.
“Champions League football puts stars everywhere in the eyes, but you have to keep your head on your shoulders,” Teuma said.
“We know that in football everything is possible and now we just want to finish what we started.
Ibrox Stadium is exactly as I imagined it in my head – a large stadium with high stands and we can surely expect crazy support from the Rangers fans. We have to be mentally prepared.”
The Malta international, who has 23 caps and one goal, added that he looks forward to play in such an environment.
“If I could play in such a stadium every week, I would be even happier because that is why I play football,” Teuma explained.
“I hope to contribute with my warrior mentality because we don’t come here as ‘victims’, but to play our chances.”
“Emotional control will be crucial. 80% of football is played in our heads.”
Asked if this is the most important match of his career, Teuma said that right now it can be considered so.
“The Belgium top-flight is also very important, but this could be one my best moments of my career.”