It all started with a podcast.
Like seemingly so many other young guys in their 20s, that’s how U.S. men’s national team and Venezia teammates Gianluca Busio and Tanner Tessmann first had the chance to sit down and talk. They knew of each other from the youth ranks — Busio joining Sporting Kansas City’s academy in 2016 and Tessmann doing the same that year with FC Dallas. But they “weren’t friends”, according to Busio.
That is, until Tessmann invited Busio on an episode of ChumChat, a podcast he hosted alongside fellow American pro Johan Gomez. During Busio’s guest appearance, the two chatted about adjusting to becoming a professional, the U.S. youth national teams, and a slew of other topics. Looking back on the episode from 2020, Busio begrudgingly admitted that Tessmann has “surprisingly good” hosting skills behind the microphone.
“He's good at talking and he had some good questions, so it was very lighthearted and easy,” Busio told Backheeled. Tessmann, sitting just to his left during our conversation in the lobby of their team hotel, smiled with a surprised look on his face. He wasn’t expecting a sincere compliment.
Since Tessmann, now 22, messaged Busio, now 21, about coming on the show, the two have become teammates for Venezia in Italy. They’re roommates on roadtrips with the club. Oh, and they’re both pushing for larger roles with the USMNT ahead of next summer’s Olympics.
“Me and Busio go well together,” Tessmann said.
Looking back on the last couple of years, that’s clear to see.
A lot was changing for Tessmann all at once.
After a breakout season in central midfield with MLS team FC Dallas in 2020, talks started heating up about a European move for the then-19-year-old. Eventually, newly promoted Serie A team Venezia emerged as the most serious suitor. You couldn’t blame Tessmann, who had never been to Italy prior to signing for the club in July, 2021, for feeling slightly overwhelmed by the prospect of moving across the Atlantic, especially to a unique area like Venice.
“At first it was a little bit of culture shock,” Tessmann said.
Living in a new city with a new language and a new team, there was one thing that made the Alabama native’s transition easier: Venezia wanted Busio, too.
“In the whole process of me signing, they also included that they wanted him as well,” Tessmann said. “So I think it might have been a drawing point for them to say, ‘there's going to be another American and you can push each other and come here.’ So, I knew when I was signing that he was coming.”