CAPE TOWN - Sometimes life just works in mysterious ways. You find yourself heading in one direction and, suddenly, surprisingly, it hurtles you down another passage. Ask Roland Putsche.
The 26-year-old Austrian was desperate for something new, something different, after spending six years as a top-flight professional at Wolfsberger AC in the Austrian Bundesliga.
He wasn’t looking for a football challenge; he was more interested in an adventure, to travel and broaden his life experience and, at the same time, assist and contribute to the development of the next generation at the Young Bafana Soccer Academy in Somerset West.
But, with football so strong in his blood, he thought he’d play some ball too.
With City having started up in June last year, Putsche offered his services, just to stay in touch with the sport he loves so much. But after just one look at the combative Austrian at training, head coach Eric Tinkler and club boss John Comitis had no hesitation in giving him a contract.
Little did Putsche know that his initial plans were about to be derailed by City’s sensational, awe-inspiring debut season in the Premier Soccer League. The Telkom Knockout Cup was wrapped up and, with four games to go, the Cape side are still in the title-race.
And, as they prepare to host Free State Stars at the Cape Town Stadium on Friday (kick-off 8pm), the Austrian midfield enforcer will have time for reflection on his extraordinary journey.
A year ago, did he believe he would be in a championship-challenging squad? “No ways,” said Putsche. “City were a new club, I was in a new city, everything was new, I didn’t know what to expect. I did not expect things would go so well.”
But, all settled now, Putsche has been invaluable to City’s cause. His consistent performances in central midfield have been the bedrock of the team’s success. It’s his dirty work and unselfish graft that allow creative sparks such as Lebogang Manyama and Aubrey Ngoma to flourish.
City head into Friday’s game against the struggling Free State side on the back of a disappointing 1-0 defeat at Maritzburg United.
Putsche says the Capetonians are determined to bounce back.
“Against Maritzburg, we did not perform well,” he said. "I think it was probably one of our worst performances of the season.
"But, in football, it happens.... Up to that game, we had been unbeaten this year – we wanted to win, but unfortunately we did not play the way we know we can."
As it stands, Bidvest Wits top the standings with 51 points, followed by Mamelodi Sundowns on 50, City 49 and Kaizer Chiefs 46 points.