RE­PLAC­ING STEPHENS

Kick Off - - FEATURE -

Fol­low­ing Shu-Aib Wal­ters’ de­par­ture from the club, last sea­son’s num­ber one Sage Stephens looked set to con­tinue in that role at City, be­fore Leeuwen­burgh’s ar­rival saw him take up a place on the sub­sti­tute’s bench, with coach Benni Mc­Carthy ex­plain­ing his rea­son­ing for shun­ning his pre­vi­ous first-choice. “A guy with 14 years’ Euro­pean ex­pe­ri­ence can’t come here and be less than what Sage is,” Mc­Carthy said. “We’ve got two re­ally good goal­keep­ers that can push and en­cour­age each other, so Sage has to un­der­stand this. I spoke to him, and he un­der­stands that com­pe­ti­tion is healthy, and that Peter won’t nec­es­sar­ily al­ways be num­ber one, and that he must con­tinue work­ing. It wasn’t easy for him to take, but he ac­cepted it. I’m happy to have two top-class goal­keep­ers.” Leeuwen­burgh him­self in­sists he has a healthy re­la­tion­ship with his team­mate. “We chat a lot and make a lot of jokes, off the pitch as well,” he says. “I don’t feel awk­ward or com­pet­i­tive with him … I ac­tu­ally feel kind of sorry for him that I’m play­ing, be­cause he’s a good goal­keeper and such a nice guy as well who’s re­ally been help­ing me. We’re com­pet­i­tive in a good way, try­ing to make each other bet­ter.”

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