I couldn't cope with Spurs freeze-out! Pienaar glad to be back at Everton
21:30 GMT, 19 August 2012
Steven Pienaar is ready to lead Everton’s assault on the top four once more after admitting his move to Tottenham caused him to fall out of love with football.
The South African returned to Goodison Park permanently this summer, having been the catalyst for reviving Everton’s fortunes in the second half of last season after joining on loan in January.
Pienaar had previously moved to Tottenham at the start of 2011 but his spell in the capital turned sour, as he endured fitness problems, rarely played for Harry Redknapp and his family failed to settle in the capital.
Ready to go: Steven Pienaar is expected to start against Manchester United
Such is the esteem in which David Moyes holds Pienaar, he paid 4.5million to bring him ‘home’ and the midfielder, who will start against Manchester United at Goodison on Monday night, is determined to pick up the baton of Everton’s main creative hub.
‘If you come back from an injury and the team is playing well then you know you have to wait for your opportunity,’ said Pienaar. ‘But when you train hard every week and you are not seeing the reward at the end of the week, it gets hard after a while.
Hard to cope: Pienaar struggled with being out of the team at Tottenham
‘It was getting a bit too much for me to deal with mentally. But that’s football and you have to live with it. When the opportunity came to move away I was looking forward to playing again. That was the reward for me.
Everton (4-5-1): Howard: Hibbert, Jagielka, Distin, Baines: Osman, Gibson, Neville, Fellaini, Pienaar: Jelavic
‘You are never too old to learn in life and every day was a lesson for me. It made me stronger in general. But I don’t regret moving. Everything happens for a reason.’
Moyes, who wrapped up the signing of Belgian international Kevin Mirallas on a four-year deal on Sunday, believes he has 'a team that can compete with the best' and Pienaar is confident Everton will rattle United this evening.
‘It was only a few seasons ago that the team was pushing for the top four, or just outside it,’ he sad. The teams above us have spent a lot of money and the league is getting tougher but hopefully we can push on from last season. I believe something special can happen at Everton this season.’