CAPE TOWN – Footballers from Europe don’t always succeed in the PSL. Invariably, because they have come to play in South Africa, the translation is that they are not good enough for Europe.
Also, when they do find a club in the PSL, they find the game too quick, the individual skill too tricky and overall just too difficult to adapt to. But not Cape Town City’s fantastic Austrian midfielder Roland Putsche
The workaholic 26-year-old’s story is completely different to the norm – and now, fit again, after missing the Cape club’s two previous fixtures, he’ll be one of the first names on coach Benni McCarthy’s team sheet for today’s MTN8 final against SuperSport United.
Putsche spent six years in the Austrian Bundesliga with Wolfsberger AC. He’s played in the Europa League and, based on how he has performed for City, there’s no doubt he is certainly good enough to still be playing in Europe.
But Putsche is no ordinary footballer. When his contract at Wolfsberger ended last year, rather than re-sign or find another club in Europe, he decided that he wanted to experience life.
He wanted to learn more about himself, so he took the plunge and arrived in the Mother City to work with the Young Bafana Soccer Academy in Somerset West. A few months after his arrival, though, as usual, the football itch needed a scratch.
At that time, City were established as a PSL club, and Putsche decided to go down and have a look.
Club boss John Comitis had one look at the Austrian at training and hauled out the contract papers and cheque book – this was a footballer he wasn’t about to allow to slip out of his grasp.
Putsche has since lived up to his reputation. He has been a steadying midfield presence for City and his lung-busting efforts, combative nature and intelligent link play have been crucial in the Cape club’s success.
Despite what he has achieved at City, he has also not forgotten the primary reason he came to Cape Town.
On Thursday afternoon, a day before the City squad departed for Durban, Putsche spent some time motivating and inspiring the Young Bafana players.
The academy’s U18 team, playing under the auspices of Avendale Athletico, will be competing in today’s Coke Cup final at the Athlone Stadium.
For the MTN8 final, though, needless to say, Putsche is keen to get back on to the field. He was a member of last season’s Telkom Knockout Cup winning squad and he’s confident City can pull this one off too.
“I can’t wait,” said Putsche, “especially because I pulled my muscle in the game against Orlando Pirates last month, but I am feeling good again.
"I had to watch a few games from the stands and I really didn’t like it. It just showed me again that I am not the type of person to watch my own team playing. I am bad at it. I have to be on the field, playing.”
As for today’s opponents, SuperSport, who have Eric Tinkler at the helm, Putsche didn’t think the presence of City’s former coach placed the Cape team at a disadvantage.
“He (Tinkler) knows a lot of our guys, but I doubt that will help him,” said the Austrian.
“In fact, it gives us a little bit of extra motivation to face him for the first time, especially in a final. It just brings a little bit more flavour to the game, and we will try to use that."