Everton and South African international Steven Pienaar retires from football.
The 35-year-old, who was capped 61 times by South Africa, had been playing for Bidvest Wits in his home country’s Premier Soccer League.
Speaking to Sportsmail he said: ‘It’s time to close the book on what has been a great part of my life and open up a new chapter.
Former Everton midfielder Steven Pienaar has announced his retirement from football, bringing to an end an illustrious career that made him one of the top African players to feature in the Premier League.
The South African international confirmed to KweséESPN on Wednesday that he would hang up his boots.
“It was a very difficult decision but now it has been made it is a weight lifted off my shoulders. I am looking forward to what comes next,” Pienaar said.
“It is something that had been on my mind for some time, but I needed to make peace with it first before I could take the decision. I have now done that and it is a good feeling.”
Pienaar had become a free agent after leaving the Clever Boys in December following a disappointing six months at the club in what he had hoped would be a triumphant return to the domestic game with the South African champions.
Pienaar was developed through South Africa’s School of Excellence and made his debut in the local league with Ajax Cape Town at the age of 17.
Within a season he had moved to the Dutch parent club in Amsterdam, where he would make his name over the next five seasons, winning two Dutch league titles and lifting the country’s FA Cup twice as well.
He spent one season with German Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund, but his arrival coincided with a turbulent time in the club’s history when they had three coaches in a single campaign.
He was sent on loan to Everton and it was at Goodison Park where he would play arguably his best football, helping the Toffees to qualify for European football on numerous occasions and winning the club’s Player of the Season in 2009-10.
He was signed by Tottenham Hotspur the following year, but persistent injuries stunted his progress there and within 12 months he was back at Goodison Park.
But as his injury problems began to mount he became less of a feature for the Merseysiders and eventually was reunited with manager David Moyes at Sunderland for the 2016-17 season that would end in relegation for the club.
Pienaar also won 62 international caps for South Africa, retiring in 2012, playing in the 2002 and 2010 World Cups with Bafana Bafana.