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Pienaar has butterflies on return from UK

06 July 2017 - 08:00 By NICK SAID and MARK GLEESON
Steven Pienaar. File photo
Steven Pienaar. File photo
Image: Johan Rynners/Gallo Images

Steven Pienaar says despite his success in Europe he will still have butterflies in his stomach as he prepares to turn out for Bidvest Wits in the new Premier Soccer League season.

The league champions announced the signing of the experienced 35-year-old yesterday.

Pienaar returns to the PSL for the first time since 2001 when he left Ajax Cape Town for Amsterdam. He then had spells with Borussia Dortmund and most notably Everton, Tottenham Hotspur and Sunderland.

"You always have butterflies, and if you don't, you don't love the sport," Pienaar told TimesLIVE.

"Playing in Europe so long, there will be a lot of eyes on me, but I will just have to take it in my stride."

Pienaar said he chose Wits because the club made him feel wanted and believed he could still make a difference.

"For me the most important thing was to join a club where I would feel welcome and appreciated.

"I wanted to come to South Africa and finish the last few seasons of my career here. I want to help young players.

"I'm joining a club that has just won the league, so it is going to be a challenge for me to show what I can do, because joining the defending champions is not always easy."

Pienaar knows much has changed in the 16 years since he last played in the PSL, and admits it will take adjusting to.

"Coming from the [English] Premier League, I have spent the past 10 years there, so it is going to be a different level and I will have to get used to it as quickly as possible."

He says he has shrugged off the ankle injury that kept him out at the end of last season.

"I have recovered from my ankle injury; it was just a pity I couldn't finish the last few games at Sunderland, but I am now fully recovered. I just need to work on my fitness."

Pienaar says he is looking forward to working with coach Gavin Hunt.

"I have worked under top coaches and coming to work with coach Hunt gives me an opportunity to work with a champion." 

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