The story of Ryan Teague

Ryan Teague was spotted and represented by super agent Jorge Mendes before being lured to Portugal. Now back in the A-Leagues, the Melbourne Victory midfielder is showing why he was signed by one of the most influential figures in the game.

If representing your country at a World Cup wasn’t incredible enough, then imagine being headhunted by a man whose stable of clients has included the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Jose Mourinho and Joao Felix.

That is exactly what happened to Victory’s Ryan Teague.

The talented 21-year-old caught the eye of super agent Jorge Mendes and his GestiFute agency during the Joeys’ 2019 FIFA Under-17 World Cup campaign in Brazil.

“I actually got a message on Instagram from someone I didn’t know from GestiFute,” Teague told ahead of last Saturday’s blockbuster against his former club Sydney FC.

“They were talking about wanting to sign me and offering different opportunities overseas. We went with it and took it.”

All of a sudden, the kid from Sydney’s eastern suburbs found himself having dinner with Mendes and his family in Portugal.

This is a man who is among the most influential football agents in the world, who brokered Mourinho’s move from Portuguese giants Porto to Premier League powerhouse Chelsea and was named Best Agent of the Year 10 times at the Globe Soccer Awards.

The Portuguese also previously represented five-time Ballon d’Or winner Ronaldo, as well as former Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea, Colombian stars James Rodriguez and Falcao as well as Diego Costa and Barcelona’s Joao Felix.

“I’ve had a couple of different dinners with Jorge and his family. With that experience, it was honestly unbelievable,” said Teague, who has since parted with Mendes.

“We actually went to his house. Sitting inside, you’re thinking wow. You can’t believe you’re there.

“To be able to sit down and talk to him and his family. To see a different side to him. I think everyone sees his football side but we were able to see his normal life.”

Throughout their partnership, Mendes was available for the Aussie midfielder to talk to.

Teague, who modelled his game on Croatian legend Luka Modric, added: “He had so many high-calibre players. For him to sit down with myself and family, that was very important and meant a lot to us.”

Born in Randwick, Teague joined Sydney FC’s academy at its inception and progressed through the youth ranks with the Sky Blues.

After signing a scholarship deal in September 2019, he made his professional debut against Brisbane Roar in December of that year.

The following month, he signed for Portuguese side Famalicao, where Mendes was involved with Israeli billionaire Ider Ofer who also owns a share in La Liga’s Atletico Madrid.

In 2008-09, Famalicao were languishing in Portugal’s regional fifth tier. Fast forward to 2019-20 and they were trying to shake up the established order of giants Benfica, Sporting CP and Porto.

Teague had just eight minutes of A-Leagues football to his name when he arrived in Vila Nova de Famalicao almost four years ago, but he was thrust straight into the action.

“Surprisingly when I first got there, I thought I’d just be involved purely with the U23 set-up,” Teague said.

“But the day I got there, I was training with the first team every day.

“I was a bit shocked at the time. The coach had a word to me and said I’d be with them from now on and just play my games in the youth team.

“That team at the time was coming first, it was an unbelievable experience.

“It’s a bit surreal when it happens but you trust your instincts and trust the ability you have yourself.”

At the time, Famalicao boasted Serbia international Uros Racic – who was on loan from Spanish outfit Valencia and his current Victory teammate and captain Roderick Miranda, who was also at the club on a temporary deal from Wolves.

“You’re obviously a bit nervous. They’re not speaking the same language. It’s a different set-up,” said Teague.

“I’ve walked into the dressing room, I doubt any player knows who I am. I’m a young boy coming for their spot too. There’s a sense of intimidation but the team was in such a good spot, playing so well, so everyone was really welcoming and easy to get along with.”

While he did not make a league appearance, Teague did debut for the club in a 2021 Taça da Liga fixture before spending time on loan at Liga Portugal 2 outfit Sporting da Covilha.

By the end of his three-and-a-half-year adventure, Teague could speak Portuguese and he has a unique perspective on football in Portugal and Australia.

“If I had a second chance, I’d do it all over again,” he insisted.

“The experiences and things I learnt in Portugal, I don’t know if I would’ve learnt the same here. Different cultures and styles of play. It was very beneficial for my football.

“Obviously when you think of the Portuguese league you think it’s very technical, which it is.

“But I think the A-League has grown a lot. There’s a lot of great players and teams. It’s going in the right direction. There are similarities.”

Teague has since been lured back home to the Isuzu UTE A-Leagues, reuniting with Miranda at Melbourne Victory.

He has established himself at the heart of Victory’s midfield amid the Club’s unbeaten start to the 2023/24 season.

Teague also scored his first professional goal – the opener in Victory’s 1-1 draw with Wellington Phoenix in November.

“I came with the intention of being able to get the opportunity to play in midfield,” said the Australian youth international.

“Fortunately enough, I’ve been able to prove myself in training and in games. Being able to retain my spot. It’s a competitive position right now and a lot of good players in the team. It helps me and others improve.”

Teague is doing his thing in the A-Leagues but having already had a taste of European football, he does want more.

“Ultimately my goal is to end up back in Europe. From what I heard and saw last season with players, getting moves from the A-League to Europe is very exciting and promising,” he said.

The Socceroos are also high on Teague’s agenda, with boss Graham Arnold putting faith in A-Leagues-based players like Brandon Borrello (Western Sydney Wanderers), Mathew Leckie (Melbourne City), Jamie Maclaren (Melbourne City) and Joe Gauci (Adelaide United).

“That’s a personal goal of mine – to make my Socceroos debut,” Teague admitted.

“When that will happen, I don’t know. But it’s very promising the coach watches the games in the A-League and giving the boys opportunities. Hopefully that can be me.”