CAPE TOWN – Veteran striker Nathan Paulse made a stunning return to football at the weekend.
Having retired at the end of the 2016-17 season, the 36-year-old former Ajax Cape Town and Bafana Bafana forward was in the process of continuing as a television analyst. This season, though, with the arrival of a new National First Division (NFD) team, Cape Umoya United, Paulse was persuaded to lace up his boots again, in order to assist the coach of the new club: his big mate Roger de Sa.
Umoya was established after De Sa and his business partners bought the franchise of Rustenburg-based Platinum Stars. With Umoya keen to make an impact, De Sa suggested Paulse think about playing again.
Paulse takes up the story: “My return to football had a lot to do with Roger. We were close during his spell as Ajax coach and, after I quit, he always told me I had retired too soon; that I still had a lot to offer. We have always been in touch and we had a talk about me making a comeback for Umoya.
We sat down and had a chat about the club’s plans, and he told me if I wanted to be part of it, as a player, he would be quite happy. He was confident I could still contribute.
“I decided to give it a week or two of training with the squad, just to see how I felt. And, you know, this game of football, it’s a bug that bites: I love playing and, most of all, I found I missed the competitiveness of it all the most. So I bought into the club’s plans, signed a contract, and I’m hoping to play a role in developing this club.
But, really, to be honest, I would not have done it for any other coach - it’s just the type of respect Roger and I have for each other.”
And to repay De Sa’s faith in his ability, Paulse netted Umoya’s goal in their first NFD fixture last Sunday in a 1-1 draw with TS Galaxy in Mpumalanga.
Saturday: Witbank Spurs v Maccabi FC; TS Sporting v Royal Eagles; Pretoria University v Uthongathi
Sunday: Mbombela Utd v Ubuntu Cape Town; Richards Bay v Stellenbosch; TS Galaxy v Jomo Cosmos; Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila v Real Kings
Tuesday, August 28: Cape Umoya United v Ajax Cape Town (Cape Town Stadium, 3pm)