Cape Town - SAFA president Danny Jordaan has called retired footballer Steven Pienaar “one of the most illustrious sons of SA football”.
Jordaan was reacting to the news that 'Schillo', as Pienaar is affectionately known, was retiring from soccer so he could spend much-needed time with his family.
"He has played in almost all of SA’s national teams and was a captain of note; he was an ambassador of the country, his family and football fans,” Jordaan said.
The SAFA boss, who is running for the re-election next month, said 'Schillo' has achieved everything any dedicated player can dream of.
“Playing for the national team for years and achieving lots - plus plying his trade in the most demanding league in the world, the English Premiership.
“He has run his race and we all bow to this son of Mzansi. We hope his achievements will motivate upcoming football players to take their sport seriously,” Jordaan said.
The 35-year-old Westbury-born Pienaar spent almost 20 years playing across three countries. In his 16 years in Europe, the talisman also played for Ajax Amsterdam, Borussia Dortmund, Tottenham Hotspur and Sunderland. In January 2001 the highly decorated Bafana Bafana icon left Ajax Cape Town at the age of 18. He later became a pivotal member of Ajax Amsterdam, winning trophies along one of Ajax's best players, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, before he moved to Germany to play for Dortmund.
He returned home last July to finish off his career after he was relegated with Sunderland last season in the English Premier League. Now he’s decided to hang up his boots and spend more time with his loved ones.
Speaking to the Soccer Laduma after announcing his retirement, Pienaar said he wants to make the most of the spare time he’ll now have.
“Obviously I want to focus on the next step in my career, but I also want to be closer with my family, including my mom who’s not getting any younger. I’ve missed so many years to be with them all, so now I’ve finally got a chance. I just want to enjoy every moment I can spend with my mom and my kids as well,” Pienaar said.
Speaking to DRUM, his close friend and a former Bafana player, Jerome McCarthy, said Pienaar told him about his imminent retirement some weeks ago.
“I have known about it. After he cleared the air with his former coach at Wits, Gavin (Hunt), he left the club and he had had enough of football. Now he just wants to relax with family while pondering what to do next. Obviously he’s thinking about business but I am not the one to jump the gun.”
While Hunt said, “He has been a great ambassador for SA, he has been a great player. Unfortunately it was time. Everything comes with time, you cannot stop the age.”
Hunt added that there was no bad blood between him and his former player when he left the club.
“I wish him all the best in his future, I am not sure if he has been rewarded the way he deserved it. He has done a lot for this country,” Hunt said.