Steven Pienaar in action for Sunderland against Southampton. Photo: Reuters
Steven Pienaar in action for Sunderland against Southampton. Photo: Reuters
Steven Pienaar talks with manager David Moyes during a Sunderland game. Photo: Reuters
Steven Pienaar talks with manager David Moyes during a Sunderland game. Photo: Reuters

JOHANNESBURG – Should Orlando Pirates be keen on acquiring the services of Steven Pienaar leading up to the new season, the veteran midfielder said this is one offer he would gladly accept following his return to South Africa.

And that’s because Schillo, as Pienaar is affectionately known, grew up supporting the Buccaneers from a very young age.

Now at age 35, Pienaar revealed that he was now back in the country for good, following what turned out to be a disastrous final season in English top-flight football this past campaign.

His former side Sunderland, a club which he joined on a one-year contract as a free agent from Everton, got relegated at the end of the 2016/17 season.

Pienaar admitted that it was a very bitter pill to swallow as this was the first time he experienced what being relegated really felt like.

However, the veteran midfielder hinted that he wasn’t done with the beautiful game as yet, as he would really love to go back on to the playing field on the domestic front again. 

The Westbury-born midfielder, however, added that the possibility of that happening will depend on such opportunities being made available to him by PSL sides who are interested in acquiring his services for the new season.

“Only God knows where I’m going to play (next),” Pienaar said at his annual Steven Pienaar Community Cup event yesterday in Westbury.

“If He opens a door for me (to play for a specific team domestically), then I’ll walk straight into it.”

Asked if Pirates were a club to open such a door for him, would he walk right in, Schillo beamed with a smile and said, nodding: “We’ll see.”

Steven Pienaar of Sunderland during a Premier League match. Photo: Sportimage/PA Images

Should that move not come to fruition, though, Pienaar is most likely to sign with either Kaizer Chiefs or Cape Town City, sides who have shown great interest in acquiring his signature.

The fact that the Citizens appointed Benni McCarthy as their new coach might give them an extra advantage, as both Pienaar and McCarthy have been very close long before Schillo became a professional footballer.

Pienaar even reckons that his good friend McCarthy, who he regards as an older brother, will do great in his first coaching job on the domestic front.

“Benni always wanted to become a coach since I’ve known him,” Pienaar said.

“He has always been a great talker, and I know that he’s going to do great (in his debut season in the PSL as head coach). He has all the right qualities expected from any (good) coach. He’s very intelligent and has got a great personality as well.

Benni McCarthy is like a brother to Steven Pienaar. Photo: Chris Ricco, BackpagePix

“He’s been like a brother to me for many years now,” Pienaar added. “I’ve known him long before I even turned pro. He has always given me good advice to act on. I can’t tell you much about how far we’ve come, but yes (they are pretty close).”

Meanwhile, Pienaar wished his former coach, David Moyes, all the best of luck in his future endeavours, adding that he never expected their reunion to result in both them being relegated to the English Championship.

“It’s like everything goes completely dark for about a day and after that, you completely forget about it (the whole experience),” Pienaar said of his first ever experience of being relegated from top-flight football.

“We (him and David Moyes) never expected that things would pan out this way (at Sunderland). We didn’t know what we were walking into. But with football, you just have to accept your defeats and we’ve done that. 

“Both of us had never experienced a relegation drop before, and we ended up going through that experience together (having worked with him at Everton previously).

“At the end of the day, Moyes is a very good manager whom I have the highest of respect for. I can only wish him well from this point going forward.”

Saturday Star

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