Player Profile: Steven Pienaar
Date of Birth: 17/3/1982
Height: 1.70 m (5 ft 7 in)
Position(s): Winger, Attacking Midfielder
National Team: South Africa
International Caps: 61
International Goals: 3
Steven Pienaar started his football in South Africa, playing for Ajax Cape Town from 1999 to 2001. During that time, he made 24 league appearances and showed a keen eye for goal, hitting the back of the net on six occasions.
His form for Ajax Cape Town quickly brought him to the attention of parent club, Ajax Amsterdam and in 2001 Pienaar was off to Europe to join the Dutch giants at just 18 years of age. He spent the next five years at the club, but it took more than a year after his arrival for Pienaar to make his league debut.
While with Ajax, Pienaar made 94 league appearances in Holland, scoring 15 goals in the process. While in Amsterdam he mostly played as a left winger, and was a pivotal part of the team that won the Dutch Eredivisie in 2002 and 2004.
His fine form saw a number of big clubs take notice, and in 2006, Borussia Dortmund brought Pienaar to Germany. At Dortmund he was handed the coveted No 10 shirt previously worn by Tomáš Rosicky who had recently joined Arsenal. But Pienaar found his time in Germany hard going and only made 25 league appearances for the club between 2006 and 2008, failing to register a single goal.
After never really settling at Dortmund, Everton and the English Premier League came calling for the South African. Pienaar made the move to Merseyside when he joined the Toffees for the first of his stints with the club.
Initially, Pienaar went to Everton on loan in 2007. His move became permanent in 2008 when the Blues paid Dortmund £2 million for his services. He quickly endeared himself to the Everton fans, forming a potent combination with left-back Leighton Baines down the left-hand flank.
His first goal came just a month into his loan spell at the club with the South African scoring in a 2-0 win over Middlesborough. Pienaar would go on to become a fan favourite over the coming years, staying at the club until 2011.
The wingers impressive form for Everton saw both Chelsea and Tottenham put in bids him. After 7 goals in 76 Premier League appearances, Pienaar was off to White Hart Lane during the January transfer window of the 2010/2011 season. His signature cost Tottenham £2 million and the London club secured his services for the next four years.
Sadly, for both parties, the transfer never really worked out. Always a little injury prone, Pienaar struggled to establish himself in North London. He spent most of his time on the sideline recovering from injuries and this stopped him from becoming a first team regular at the club.
In August 2011, at the start of his first full season with the club, Pienaar suffered a groin injury that sidelined him for six weeks. By January 2012, Pienaar had made only 10 league appearances in a year.
Tottenham decided to cut their losses and Pienaar initially rejoined Everton on six-month loan deal. His impact was spectacular! During the loan, Pienaar managed four goals but also provided six assists in just 14 games.
With Pienaar expressing his desire to return to Merseyside, the move became permanent at the start of the 2012/2013 season when Everton paid £4.5 million to secure his return.
Throughout the season, he continued to prove his worth to the club, by scoring goals and providing assists. In fact, in December, he scored against Tottenham in a 2-1 win over his old club. Interestingly, this goal was Everton’s 1000th in the English Premier League.
Unfortunately, Pienaar’s injury troubles came back to haunt him and severely impacted his game time over the following seasons. His second stint with Everton lasted from 2012 to 2016 and all-in-all Pienaar made 147 league appearances for the club, scoring 14 goals.
With David Moyes now at Sunderland, Pienaar left Merseyside on a free transfer to join the former Everton manager on a one-year contract. He made only 15 league appearances for the club but never managed a goal.
In 2017 he returned to South Africa, turning out for local club Bidvest Wits on just four occasions before retiring in 2018. During the course of his career, Pienaar made 357 league appearances for his various clubs, scoring 41 goals in the process.
Pienaar was a crucial part of the South African national side between 2002 and 2012. During that time, he made 61 appearances for Bafana Bafana, scoring three goals. At times, he captained the side as well.
He also participated in two World Cups, first in Korea and Japan in 2002, and then in Africa’s first World Cup, staged in South Africa in 2010. He retired from international football in 2012 aged just 30.
Where is Steven Pienaar now?
Regarded as one of Everton’s finest ever overseas signings, Pienaar is now an ambassador for the Merseyside club, supporting them in various ventures around the world.
While Pienaar has stated that he doesn’t know if he ever wants to manage a soccer club one day, he has done a number of coaching courses including getting his UEFA A Licence in 2018.
Did you know? Interesting facts about Steven Pienaar
– Pienaar is known in South Africa by his nickname, “Schillo”.
– The nickname was given to him by friends and family and comes from the Italian striker and hero of Italia ’90, Salvatore “Tito” Schillaci.
– He was once sued by his ex-girlfriend for not marrying her!
– One of his greatest ever soccer memories was scoring against Manchester United at Old Trafford in a 4-4 draw that lost them the English Premiership title.
– He rates David Moyes as the best manager he has ever played under.