CAPE TOWN – Peter Leeuwenburgh is simply loving his time in the Mother City and in the PSL.
In the space of just three months, after making the decision to leave the comfort and familiarity of his home in the Netherlands to sign for Cape Town City, the 24-year-old goalkeeper has rapidly warmed his way into the hearts of football fans across the country.
Goalkeepers are crucial to the success of a football club. It’s something City coach Benni McCarthy is acutely aware of. As such, after his first season in charge, his top priority for this campaign was to bring on board a consistent, reliable No 1. Enter Leeuwenburgh.
The Dutchman represented his country at Under-17, U19 and U20 level and was on the books of Ajax Amsterdam. Game time was hard to come by, though; even when he was part the club’s Reserve team, Jong Ajax, he couldn’t get into the team on a regular basis. Earlier this year, he had a decision to make. He hadn’t played a competitive game for almost a year and his career was going nowhere. He was released by Ajax and there were no suitors for his services in his country.
Enter City boss John Comitis. His connections in the Netherlands alerted him to the availability of Leeuwenburgh; a deal was struck and the rest, as they say, is history.
The Dutch goalkeeper’s presence has had a major influence on City. His heroic performances in the MTN8 ultimately resulted in the Cape side winning the competition. In both the semi-final and the final - against Mamelodi Sundowns and SuperSport United respectively - he emerged as his team’s saviour in dramatic penalty shoot-out contests.
However, it’s not just his agility and shot-stopping ability that have been vital for City, his overall composure has permeated the entire squad with confidence; with the players secure in the knowledge that the last man in defence has their backs.
Leeuwenburgh hasn’t needed any time to adapt to his new surroundings. He has quickly taken to the PSL and, as he readily admits, he is really enjoying his time in South African football. Having now been involved for about three months, the Dutchman was able to reveal some of his thoughts on the country’s football.
“Football here is not always as consistent as it is in the Netherlands, or Europe in general,” said Leeuwenburgh. “You never know what you can expect from the opponent. One day they play like Barcelona and the next day they can play like an amateur team. It’s different for sure, but I do like it and I think that it suits me.”
And, during the short time that Leeuwenburgh has been in the PSL, he has already been able to contribute to City winning some silverware: the MTN8. Now, as City prepare for their next competition - the Telkom Knockout - where they tackle AmaZulu in Durban on Tuesday, the keeper is keen on maintaining his good form.
“Winning a trophy so soon after arriving in the PSL is incredible,” he said. “In the end, that’s why we all play football, to win a trophy. But it’s important to focus on the league now, instead of thinking that we are done for this season.”
Leeuwenburgh has also now had time to assess the strengths and weaknesses of his own team. As far as he is concerned, there is only one aspect holding them back.
“Most games we play very well,” said the Dutchman. “We are a team that wants to play out from the back; we’re good at it and we create a lot of chances, but we don’t finish them. If we can improve on that, then we will be a very tough team to beat.”
Telkom Knockout first round fixtures
Mamelodi Sundowns v Bloem Celtic 6pm
Orlando Pirates v Chippa United 8.15pm
Maritzburg Utd v Highlands Park 8.15pm
Free State Stars v Wits 3.30pm
Baroka FC v Golden Arrows 3.30pm
Kaizer Chiefs v Black Leopards 3.30pm
Polokwane City v SuperSport Utd 3.30pm
AmaZulu v Cape Town City 7.30pm