Fought up and stayed down to earth
Markus Kuster used to have nothing to do with football. Then, he began to work his way up to professional level – and continue to pursue great goals.
“I am a funny guy, always positive“, says Markus as he smiles. After all, he fulfilled his dream he had since a young age: to become a professional goalkeeper. But, that wasn’t predictable at all: While his cousins were always playing, he sat on the sidelines. No desire. “I hated football or I didn’t like it like that.” Only at some points he joined the others and because of his height he was put in goal. His grandfather and father were also goalkeepers, and it soon became clear that Markus could follow their footsteps.
“I had nothing else on my mind”
Then it quickly became more of a concrete sport for Markus: via SK Pama and SC Neusiedl, he moved to Academy Burgenland at the age of 14, where he went to boarding school, and football became more of a focus. “I had nothing else on my mind. During the summer holidays, I spent six of the nine weeks in football camps”, the Burgenlander looks back: “I had many private training sessions and boarding school allowed me to mature and I learnt to become independent”.
Family is important to Markus, his parents always took him everywhere and supported him. And when Mattersburg score a goal, his brother is often seen by the TV picture cheering in the SVM fanblock.
At the age of 15, Markus had already played a game in the U19 of SV Mattersburg. At 17, he made his debut in the regional league team. At 20, with the professionals in the second division. At one stage, the situation was critical – Mattersburg were only one point above relegation, meaning the regional league threatened. But Markus didn’t care, “I had nothing to lose”. He helped the club to maintain its class. Since then, he has always remained the first team goalkeeper and says afterwards: “That was a long way, at the beginning of the season I was the third goalkeeper. I always fought my way up.“
Markus played six times for the U21 and in the following season (2014/2015) Mattersburg raised up to the Bundesliga. The 1.94-metre keeper played 17 games without conceding a goal and was directly elected goalkeeper of the season in the first Bundesliga year.
His secret? The consistancy. He is eager to learn and always wants to improve in all areas, he says: “You must never rest”. And former national goalkeeper Robert Almer, who was his goalkeeper coach for a while, stated: “You have to slow him down rather than rest.”
With a small club like the SVM, Markus knows it’s harder to return to the national team, but he wants to go there again. In 2017, and early 2018, he was in the squad for five games, but he hasn’t been picked to play so far.
There were offers from other clubs again and again, also before the current season. But Markus wants to play, that is his claim. To be number two is no option for him. He makes no secret that he is attracted to foreign countries: “I feel comfortable here too.”
“The slogan is down-to-earth,” he says “You have to know where you come from.“
And so the story is told, he buys jerseys with his own money so that he can give them to his fans. Markus has always stayed very modest and because he has been at the club for so long, it would be hard to imagine the SVM without him.