Steven Pienaar makes it no secret that he loves Orlando Pirates and has hinted that if the Buccaneers should show him some love he might be willing to make them his next career move.
South Africa’s last major export to Europe in a long line, from Lucas Radebe to Benni McCarthy‚ is ready to call it a day in the English Premiership‚ he said, attending his annual Steven Pienaar Community Cup in home neighbourhood Westbury in Johannesburg on Thursday.
Pienaar‚ at 35‚ played a fair 10th season in the EPL at Sunderland in 2016-17, with 15 league and two cup games.
But the player with a small frame but a bruising style of play admits his body has taken a battering in a glittering career at Ajax‚ Tottenham‚ Borussia Dortmund and mostly Everton.
Pienaar has options at smaller leagues in Europe and China‚ but his most likely destination this off-season is back home.
As a staunch Pirates supporter‚ Pienaar may heed the advice of former Bafana Bafana teammate Moeneeb Josephs and follow in McCarthy’s footsteps to Pirates at the conclusion of his career in Europe.
“Obviously, Moeneeb knows I’m a Pirates fan. When he was still playing at Pirates I always used to shout at him when they lost‚” Pienaar chuckled. “He knows how passionate I am about the club. And‚ yeah‚ for him to speak so much about it‚ he knows where I come from.
“My career is coming to an end. Your last two years you want to play at a club where you feel loved. A club where you want to be there. It’s not like you’re playing where you just want to finish. “I want to go to a club where I’m welcome‚ where I can play here [in SA] and finish in a nice way.”
Josephs had said in the media that Pienaar’s experience‚ intelligence and star quality could turn around a Bucs side who have won one trophy – the Nedbank Cup in 2014 – in five seasons.
Pirates have had a dismal 80th anniversary 2016-17‚ finishing 11th in the PSL‚ though they do still have the Nedbank final to play for against SuperSport United.
“They’ve got quality in the team. Somehow it just doesn’t work out‚” Pienaar said. “But I can’t give my opinion on that. From a supporters’ side it’s as disappointing for me as all the other supporters. But it is a big club. And obviously if you get an opportunity to play for a big club‚ any player will take it.
“But‚ like I said‚ I’m just a supporter. I haven’t spoken to the chairman [Irvin Khoza] this year. We’ll see what will happen.
“If it’s any club in South Africa‚ like I say‚ if I feel loved in that place then I’ll take that opportunity.”
Pienaar said he had left his next club move – or at least the options available – in the hands of his agent‚ Rob Moore. He said the EPL would definitely not be an option.
“Yeah‚ I’m done. I told myself last season would be my last‚” the former Bafana captain said. But I can say that I played for 10 years in the Premier League. That’s an achievement on its own.
“All the other stuff about the clubs‚ I leave that up to my agent to deal with. I told him‚ ‘I’m with my family – when you have something call me.’”