Aussies Abroad: A tale of two brothers

The story of Ryan and Andrew Marveggio is all about hard work.

The story of Ryan and Andrew Marveggio is all about hard work.

The brothers - aged 23 and 19 respectively never got the chance to play professional football in Australia yet are living the dream in The Netherlands, playing football for second-tier outfit SC Telstar.

And they got there through sheer grit and determination.

Ryan, a utility comfortable across the back four or in midfield, juggled a full-time job as a cabinet maker with two training sessions a day and matches on the weekend for Adelaide Olympic in the South Australian Super League.

His story is one of commitment and, frankly, is refreshing in an era of professional footballers motivated by money.

"It wasn't hard to juggle work commitments and football. I always knew what I wanted and nothing was going to get in my way," the eldest of the two Marveggio brothers said.

"I knew had to make sacrifices to achieve my goal and play professionally. Instead of me going out on weekends and spending my money on new clothes and drinks, I spent my money on seeing a physio and a nutritionist."

Ryan credits his dad - Bruno Marveggio, one of the owners of Adelaide United - for instilling the faith in him that he could make it as a footballer.

However, it was not always his favoured career path.

"In my early days I never wanted to be a football player. I wanted to play AFL. But back in the day, there was no Auskick or anything like that around. My father used to play (football) in the local leagues and being from an Italian background, we used to watch a lot of football on TV,” he said.

"My dad asked if I wanted to play football and give that a try. So I started playing football because I couldn't play AFL."

It would not have been a surprise to see Ryan play AFL, given his drive and desire to achieve his goals.

But playing such a sport would not have given him the opportunity to play professionally overseas.

And by playing football and getting close to two-time Holland international Andwele Slory, the eldest of the Marveggio brothers set up the opportunity of a lifetime.

With Slory at Adelaide United at the time, Ryan struck up a friendship with the winger that resulted in his move to Holland.

"I got to know Andwele Slory very well and he was watching me play once. He was saying, 'I don't understand why you haven't played A-League or had a chance to go to Europe. Have you ever thought of that?'" he said.

"I told him it was every boy's dream to go to Europe. He got his agent, who is now my agent, to have a look at me in March. Then he (agent) called me about four weeks later saying he had got me and my brother a trial at Telstar and they had looked at my DVD."

"They asked us to stay another week because we impressed. They said, 'You can go back home, we are happy, we just need to sort our side of things'. I was back home a week later and they offered us contracts."

Both Ryan and Andrew paid for the plane tickets to get to Holland and back out of their own pocket but were rewarded with one-year deals at the club.

Neither have cracked it for a first-team match at Telstar yet, with Ryan given the tough task of displacing experienced 29-year-old right-back Anthony Correia.

And he is prepared to wait for his chance instead of moving out on loan.

"I'm right on the brink (of playing). The player that I'm up against is very experienced. He has earned his spot. I just have to be patient, do the extra work and my time will come,” he said.

"Sometimes a loan move can be wrong because you take yourself out of the picture and you are not in the trainer's eye every day."

Ryan's respect for his manager, Jan Poortvliet, is obvious throughout the interview.

It was Poortvliet - who represented Holland at the 1978 FIFA World Cup - who instigated his switch to right-back.

"I was originally a midfielder and that's where I trialled - as a defensive midfielder. At the start of pre-season I moved to right back because the right back started pre-season with a niggling injury,” Ryan said.

"Poortvliet asked me if I was interested in playing right back, I said, 'Yes', so he put me there and I did well. The next day he asked me if I wanted to stay there and make it my position.

"He was a right back. He said, 'I can teach you (about the position),' and he feels that is where my potential is. I'm more than capable of playing in midfield, centre back or even left back but I want to make right back my own position so that is what I'm aiming for."

A string of impressive performances in the club's reserves suggest the 22-year-old is on the verge of a first-team chance despite a recent knee injury, but brother Andrew may just have to wait a little longer before breaking through in a squad crowded with midfield players.

That will not worry the well-grounded midfielder though, who only started playing senior football two years ago.

"I was 18 in 2010 and I knew I really wanted to have a crack at overseas football no matter how it came. I deferred university for the year so I could train more," the younger of the brothers said.

"March came around and I was playing with my club (Adelaide City) when Ryan had an agent come and look at us both. Before I knew it I was over here trialling (and then signing a deal). It just went by so quickly."

Andrew owes a lot to his brother, from arranging his trial to giving him an interest in football in the first place.

The pair live together in the tiny Santpoort-Noord suburb with Ryan's girlfriend of six years, Andrea, and Andrew makes no secret of his admiration for his brother.

"As I was growing up, I always saw my brother play on Sunday and saw his enjoyment. I thought there was nothing else I was going to do but play football," Andrew said.

"I've always taken inspiration from him because he has great motivation and a great work ethic. It's been much easier for me to just follow in his footsteps.

"To be able to train and play with him makes it even easier. To live with him is easier too. He really helps me a lot with the way I eat, train, play and all the mental things. He is always good for support. He's played a huge part in my football life."

The brothers not only share the same career and house, but also the same passion for Liverpool.

My interview with the pair was on Australia Day - on which they assure me they consumed some Vegemite - and they are both buzzing about Liverpool's progression to the Carling Cup final.

They have already booked in a pub session with some of their teammates for the meeting against Cardiff on February 26, but it will be a rare visit to a nightspot.

Ryan and Andrew are adamant they are not about to waste their opportunity, and instead spend their weekends going out for dinner, watching movies and keeping a close eye on their beloved Reds.

The commitment they show to their football is obvious and you would not be surprised if that dedication leads them both to very successful careers.