Pien­aar: I would love to fin­ish ca­reer in SA

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

CityPress - - Sport - TI­MOTHY MOLOBI ti­mothy@city­press.co.za

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 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 op­por­tu­nity 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 run­ner­sup.

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.

PHOTO: TEBOGO LETSIE

Steven Pien­aar has not ruled out the pos­si­bil­ity of end­ing his ca­reer in the PSL

PHOTO: GETTY IM­AGES

HOME­SICK ADIOS Steven Pien­aar is on the mar­ket af­ter leav­ing Ever­ton

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