<
>

Steven Pienaar didn't initially want to move to Everton

play
Pienaar: I didn't want to leave Dortmund (1:24)

Steven Pienaar explains the process he went through at Borussia Dortmund before he signed, initially on loan, at Everton. (1:24)

Steven Pienaar's transfer from Borussia Dortmund to Everton in the summer of 2007 would catapult him to global stardom and was a defining moment in his career, but he resisted the move at the time.

The former South Africa international, who announced his retirement from the game last week, reveals that he was not looking for a move away from the German Bundesliga at the time, and was instead focused on fighting for his place at Dortmund.

Following five successful years at Ajax Amsterdam, Pienaar made the switch to Germany in 2006, but despite making 27 appearances in his first campaign, he battled to settle.

The club had three coaches that season, which did not help, and as a high-profile signing many looked to the young Pienaar to help them out of the mire. When they only finished ninth in the Bundesliga, fingers were pointed his way.

But he was determined to prove the doubters wrong and after a good pre-season was looking forward to the new campaign.

"I took it as my first season was one where I would settle in, then the second season was where I wanted to push myself," Pienaar tells KweséESPN.

"After the pre-season I sat down with [coach] Thomas Doll. We had a chat, even though he was speaking German and I was speaking to the assistant coach in English.

"He believed in me and said to me, 'There are a lot of bad things coming from around the club that we have to get rid of you, but I want you to stay'.

"I told him that after the pre-season I had, I also wanted to stay and that I'm willing to fight for my place. He said, 'Okay, I will go back to the sporting director and say you want to stay'."

It might have all been different had he stuck to his original plan to stay in Germany, but a phone call from his agent changed the course of his career.

Pienaar explains: "We then had a few days off and I drove back to Amsterdam. Rob [Moore] phoned me and said, 'I don't know if you know what is going on behind the scenes?'

"I didn't have a clue and told him that I had a meeting with the coach and everything was positive. He said to me, 'Yes, but we are busy talking to Everton'."

Pienaar had long held the dream of playing in England and when the chance arose, he felt he could not turn it down, even though he had not sought to move away from Dortmund.

The lure of the Premier League proved too strong and he would make the switch to Goodison Park, initially on loan, going on to make 229 appearances for the Toffees over eight seasons at the club.

'Schillo' continued: "Basically the opportunity came on its own. When he [Moore] told me that, I just wished everything went to plan. He phoned me again later and said everything had been agreed and it was now up to me to decide.

"It wasn't exactly what I had planned for, how to get to the UK. [But] once you join the best league in the world, you want to stay there."

Many pundits down the years have stated that Pienaar's game was more suited to Spain than England, but he says he felt that he would stand out more in the Premier League.

"A lot of people at Ajax said to me if you move from Holland, you must move to the Spanish league," he said.

"But I felt there were a lot of similar players in Spain to me, but if I move to the Premier League I bring something different that maybe they are not used to."

Pienaar would also play for Tottenham Hotspur and Sunderland in the Premier League, spending 10 seasons in England.