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|Birthday||May 17, 1981|
With his flair and creativity helping produce some eye-catching displays, Pienaar’s performances for Everton made him one of the Premier League’s brightest stars.
The Johannesburg-born midfielder began his career at Ajax Cape Town before moving to the Netherlands with Ajax in January 2001, breaking into the side a year later and becoming a pivotal member of the team that won the Eredivisie in 2002 and 2004. A move to Dortmund followed in January 2006 as they sought a replacement for Arsenal-bound Tomas Rosicky, but Pienaar struggled to make his mark in Germany and was happy to join Everton for a fee of £2 million in 2008.
The midfield schemer continued to improve and, in the absence of Mikel Arteta for the second-half of the 2008-09 season, was the chief architect in the heart of the Toffees midfield. On the international stage, Pienaar became an integral part of the Bafana Bafana squad and, having travelled to the 2002 World Cup, he was named vice-captain for the hosts’ side in 2010.
With his contract running down, though, Pienaar sought a new challenge and, after spurning interest from Chelsea, joined Tottenham in January 2011. The move to Spurs did not work out and he returned to Everton on loan 12 months later.
Strengths: Pienaar has bags of pace, a high work-rate and the ability to dribble at defenders. He is an accurate passer and crosser of the ball and possesses a vicious right-foot shot.
Weaknesses: Finishing. For such a creative player, Pienaar does not find the goal himself too often.
Career High: Winning the title with Ajax in 2002 and 2004.
Career Low: South Africa’s failure to qualify for the 2006 World Cup; Bafana Bafana finished third in their qualifying group behind Ghana and Congo DR.
Style: Dynamic, fast, tricky, a key source of creativity.
Quotes: “Steven is brilliant. He’s been a real revelation for our club. Every time we give him the ball it looks like something magic will happen.” Everton’s Tim Howard, September 2009.
Trivia: Pienaar’s nickname is ‘Schilo’, taken from Italian footballer Salvatore Schillaci – the Golden Boot winner at the 1990 World Cup.