Steven Pienaar: I would love to finish career in SA


Former Bafana captain is without a club after leaving Everton and is considering his future

Former Bafana Bafana captain Steven Pienaar has not ruled out the possibility of ending his illustrious career in the Premier Soccer League (PSL).

The 34-year-old midfielder believes he still has about two years left before he will hang up his boots.

“A PSL medal would be nice before I retire. I didn’t win any medal in the English Premier League – we only finished in the semis of the FA Cup. I can add value to the [SA] league, but let’s wait and see,” said Pienaar, who still has the Rothmans Cup medal he won in 2000 while at Ajax Cape Town.

But the lure of making his last big paycheque might see him head east to China.

“Clubs there are investing a lot to put Chinese football on the world football map, which is great. There was contact made in February, but let’s wait and see what will happen in the near future.”

Speaking on the sidelines of his annual Steven Pienaar Community Tournament in Westbury, Johannesburg, the player did not want to give away anything about his next destination.

His contract with English Premiership side Everton is coming to an end this month.

But he said he knew as early as January that he would move away from the Toffees, after nine seasons in the EPL.

Should he come back home, he would be following in the footsteps of the likes of Benni McCarthy, Sibusizo Zuma and the late John “Shoes” Moshoeu, who all ended their careers in South Africa.

But the former Ajax Amsterdam player has kept his next destination close to his chest.

“My future is still in the balance, but I would love to finish in South Africa. There have been no offers from local clubs as yet.

“I told myself that if I get the opportunity to come home, I would consider it. But I have no idea where I will be playing next season, as there are lots of things to consider. It will depend on what my family wants. For now, I am enjoying Johannesburg.”

Asked about a possible move to Mamelodi Sundowns, he said he knew nothing about it aside from what he had read in the media.

“I have been following the PSL and the football standard has improved. The league is tough. There is a lot of talent coming through with the Under-23 team going to Olympics and the Under-20s being on the verge of qualifying for the World Cup.”

Pienaar, who retired from international football in 2012, said he did not regret his decision.

“I thought long and hard about retiring, as a lot of things were going through my mind then. It was my personal stuff that kept me from continuing and I believe I made the right decision.”

He said he was still fit and raring to go, however.

“I have been fit for a while now. I have fully recovered from injury since October but have not been able to break into the team for regular game time. In football you take the good with the bad.”

He credited discipline and hard work for his successful career in Europe, which had also seen him featuring for clubs Ajax Amsterdam, Borussia Dortmund and Tottenham Hotspur.

“It was a successful stay, as I played lot of games and really enjoyed myself. I put in lots of effort and my family was always behind me. I have enjoyed playing among the best players in the world, and have really enjoyed every minute. Living in Liverpool has been amazing, and I am going to miss the supporters.”

He said he felt fulfilled when he saw Joburg’s grandparents coming to support their kids at his tournament.

“I wanted to make a difference in the community by changing people’s lives and giving youngsters the opportunity to be off the streets and forget all the bad things happening in the area.”

He said his wish was to see a PSL team coming from the township.

His tournament attracted 200 clubs, from those for Under-8s to veterans.

Pienaar’s long-time sponsor Puma supplied kits to all the teams that reached the quarterfinals, with the winning senior’s team taking home R60 000, and R30 000 going to the runners-up.

For now, he said he wanted to enjoy his holiday with his family.

“The next season will only start in August, so there is a lot of time to sort out my future,” he concluded.