Steven Pienaar, from Township to Tottenham

In America, the rags to riches sportsman story is highly documented; kids who grow up in the ghetto treading a thin line between crime, gangs, and education are rescued from potential doom by their talent with a ball.

This story is less familiar with footballers, but Steven Pienaar is one Premiership footballer where this rings true.

A seasoned Premiership player now in his 3rd season in England, Pienaar once had to deal with the day to day reality of life in a South African Township at the tail end of the apartheid. He originated from Westbury on the outskirts of Johannesburg, a place once described as “a death zone where the Devil is busy”. He grew up experiencing drug-dealing, gun crime, and 187’s first hand, losing a close friend at a very early age.

But Pienaar, a devoted Christian, managed to stay out of trouble and out of danger. This must have been hard work considering his mother insisted he sit on the floor rather than the sofa growing up to help avoid stray bullets. He and his family have witnessed a South Africa where they were discriminated against because of the colour of their skin. Luckily, his natural skill with a football got him noticed by the Johannesburg School of Excellence and the rest is history.

He arrived in England at Everton via Dortmund in 2008, and it was at Everton that ‘Schillo’ (named after Toto Schillachi) started to mature and fulfil his potential. Pienaar was South African player of the year in 2009 and player of the season at Everton last year.

So what have Spurs signed? Spurs have got a player that not only turned down Chelsea, but once played for Arsenal. Westbury Arsenal in South Africa that is. They have a versatile player who can play anywhere across the midfield. He’s naturally right-footed but played mostly on the left for Everton. Even if played on the right it is unlikely he will ever play like a conventional winger, preferring to get in to central areas at any opportunity. His movement is an asset to any team and he likes to get in the box, although the one thing he needs to add to his game is goals. He can use both feet, has ‘tekkers’, and can also take a decent free kick.

At 5ft 7ins he is not going to add much muscle to the already diminutive Tottenham midfield, but the boy is strong. Strong in character, and he can put himself about. He’ll be ready to slot anywhere into the Spurs midfield and what is for certain is that for £3,000,000, what they have is a steal.

Why Spurs, and not Chelsea? Well, possibly because of ex-Ajax counterpart Van der Vaart or fellow country man Khumalo. It is on the toss of a coin as to where he would get more of a game. It is almost braver going to Spurs with the quality they have in the centre and on the left. Maybe it was the money? Maybe Harry convinced him? Maybe he is just drawn to the type of football Spurs try to play and feels he may be more compatible with their clutch of midfielders. Whatever it is, he is an asset to Spurs and will add great strength to their squad.

Check back at The Rascal this lunchtime for a Steven Pienaar Bio-Map!

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  1. Robster says:

    It’s saying someting when living in Tottenham is a step up in the world!

  2. Nicko Massive Yid says:

    Good background and I like this guy, but it probably spells the end for my namesake Kranks! We are successfully breeding a team of midgets. But come on Harry we need a striker so get on it, no 20 goal a season man as it doesn’t look like Defoe can play with VdV off him and two out and out wingers. We need top four. COYS

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