Steven "Schillo" Pienaar has finally announced his retirement from the beautiful game – after a career that spanned 19 years, globetrotting over all of Europe, securing a legacy as one of South Africa's favourite football exports.
It's been an amazing ride made more special by you, the fans. Thank You. It's been an honour. 🙏🏽⚽️ pic.twitter.com/qsy4bZCLjT— Steven Pienaar (@therealstevenpi) February 28, 2018
Pienaar announced his retirement on Twitter and thanked his mother, all the clubs he has played for, and the fans showing him so much love and support throughout his career.
To celebrate his illustrious career, here is our take on why Schillo, alongside Benny McCarthy, is the finest export in SA football:
Prior to his retirement, Pienaar was signed by reigning PSL champions Bidvest Wits, and he was expected to showcase his class on home soil. However, his twilight tenure at Wits ended on a downer for the 34-year-old – the club released him before his contract came to an end.
Pienaar's real glory years were when he was flying the SA flag in European football, playing in Germany, the Netherlands and England over 16 years. He was named Everton's Player of the Season in 2009-10, and achieved much more on the pitch.
- Ajax Cape Town - 24 appearances, 6 goals ⚽️
- Ajax Amsterdam (Netherlands) - 94 appearances, 15 goals ⚽️
- Borussia Dortmund (Germany) - 25 appearances, 0 goals
- Everton (England) - 175 appearances, 20 goals ⚽️
- Tottenham Hotspur (England) - 10 appearances, 0 goals
- Sunderland (England) - 15 appearances, 0 goals
- Bafana Bafana - 61 appearances, 3 goals ⚽️
- Everton Player of The Year: 2009-10 🏆
One of the biggest losses to South African football fans was Pienaar's early retirement from international duties in 2012. His absence and leadership were sorely missed, as the mercurial dynamic midfielder used to carry the national team with his performances – the heir to his throne is yet to emerge.
Fans have a special place in their hearts for international players that represent South Africa, and they love players who play with their hearts on their sleeves. Pienaar played with nothing but pride, and as a result, achieved cult status. His former teammates and clubs paid tribute to the little magician's career.
Pienaar was known for his individual qualities as a player, and he has awards to prove it, including Safa Player of the Year 2009 and Ajax Talent of the Year 2003. He last won a league title in the same year.
The legacy he leaves behind are memories of the way he set alight the leagues around Europe, and the spark he added when he led Bafana Bafana, for which fans will always be grateful.