One to Watch - Steven Pienaar
Name: Steven Pienaar
Date of Birth: 17/3/1982
Nationality: South Africa
Former Clubs: Ajax Cape Town, Ajax, Borussia Dortmund, Tottenham Hotspur
League Appearances (Goals): 259 (31)
International Appearances (Goals): 57 (2)
Much like QPR this season, Everton`s penchant for scoring goals has been about as natural as Joey Barton and Tony Fernandes refraining from logging onto Twitter every five minutes and so the return of the creative, and much sought after playmaker Steven Pienaar (not to be mistaken with English footballer Rachel Yankey), will stand Everton in good stead for their traditional late-season surge up the table. Having had his career nearly destroyed by the career destroying club that is Spurs, Pienaar admirably swallowed his pride and returned to the club he left after infamously turning down a new contract at The Toffees. His goal and superb display in Everton`s recent victory over Chelsea quickly quietened the Pienaar-haters and the Everton faithful will be hoping he will be able to refill the gaping hole he left when he joined Spurs.
Pienaar`s selfless and energetic displays make him an integral part to Everton`s style of play, and having slotted back in on the left of midfield to restore his industrious relationship with left-back Leighton Baines, the 29-year-old clearly is one of the best unconventional wingers in the Premier League. Baines and Sylvain Distin are just two of many Everton players that have been lauding the return of Pienaar, and the diminutive midfielder will be instrumental in Everton`s end of season push for Europe. Pienaar has never shirked away from his troubled past in South Africa, or his battles with his daughter`s mother over an alleged broken promise they would marry; should QPR decide to actually turn up and pose any sort of problem for the dynamic winger, it will take a hell of a lot to perturb the Everton playmaker from making some kind of impact on Saturday.
Steven Pienaar was born in Johannesburg and started his professional career at Ajax Cape Town - the satellite club of the famous Dutch side. He impressed for his sides Centre of Excellence before moving up to the youth academy, where he continued to impress. At 18 he was taken to Holland to join 'the` Ajax and despite not making his Eredivisie debut until the age of 24 he became a pivotal member of the Ajax team that won the Dutch league in 2002 and 2004. Pienaar shone as one of Ajax`s best players alongside the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Rafael van der Vaart and Wesley Sneijder.
Having made 94 appearances and scored 15 goals for Ajax, in January 2006 German club Borussia Dortmund signed Pienaar on a three year deal, with the intention of replacing Arsenal-bound Tomas Rosicky. Pienaar`s career never took off at Dortmund and he endured a difficult two years at the German side, making just 25 appearances. Everton rescued him from his nightmare in 2008 by signing him on loan, and after impressing at Goodison Park he was signed for a fee of £2 million. Despite missing eleven games through injury, Pienaar was named Everton`s Player of the Season for the 2009/2010 season. Pienaar finished his Everton career with nine goals in 104 appearances before Spurs signed him for £3 million in January 2011. His time at White Hart Lane was rather subdued as he made only 10 league appearances before eventually moving back to Everton on loan for the rest of the 2011/2012 season.