Steven Pienaar fondly recalls 'denying United the title'
Former Everton and Tottenham Hotspur winger Steven Pienaar announced his retirement earlier this month after a glittering 18-year European career that also took him to the Netherlands and Germany.
The South Africa international is remembered by fans for his skill, high work-rate and strength, despite his 5ft7in stature. He also went to two World Cups with Bafana Bafana, in 2002 and then at home 2010.
'Schillo', named after former Italy striker Toto Schillaci, shared some of his fonder memories from his career in an exclusive interview with KweséESPN.
My first game for the South African national team [against Turkey in 2002] is one I will always remember and tell my kids about.
But also scoring against [Manchester] United and denying them the title [in the 2011/12 season], that was one of my favourites ... even my favourite maybe. Drawing 4-4 after coming from 3-1 down and scoring... it is a game a lot of people will remember me for.
Richard Witschge [at Ajax Amsterdam]. He was a senior player at the time and had played for Barcelona and with Zinedine Zidane [at Bordeaux]. He was one of the best players I saw at Ajax in my time. But he was also one of the weirdest guys I have ever had in the dressing room.
He once put bubble-wrap into Nikos Machlas' Porsche, filled it right up. Niko opened it and it just spilled out all over. He didn't even ask who had done it, he knew who it was.
But Richard was also always there to give advice and had plenty of stories... he said that when Zidane was later asked who was the best player he had played with, he also said Richard!
He would say, 'I am the only guy who can pass a ball from anywhere on the pitch and put it on your neck where you want it'. He was right.
I have two. The first one was for Everton against Arsenal that I scored in the snow [in 2009/10]. Being on the counter, getting a through-pass in the snow. It's just you and the keeper and you are thinking, 'What am I going to do?'. But I think the snow made me calmer and I just lobbed it over [goalkeeper Manuel] Almunia's head. I think a lot of Everton supporters remember that goal.
Then there was a goal that I scored [for Ajax Cape Town] against Orlando Pirates [in 1999/00], the team that I supported. I also denied them the title with that goal. The one against Pirates was extra-special, I picked up the ball from our 18-yards and ran all the way into their box and scored.
Team you most wanted to beat
Liverpool... but I didn't have so many good occasions against them. And [Manchester] United. They were teams I always wanted to beat because I know a lot of people in South Africa support those two clubs.
And playing for Everton, I knew the special relationship between the three clubs, with the fans. It was always special if we won against United or Liverpool. I can say those are the two clubs I really wanted to win against.
We [Everton] played against Spurs at White Hart Lane and at halftime we went into the dressing room. [Leon] Osman was sitting next to me. I took my jersey off, we were talking and the manager [David Moyes] was going on. We had been quite good in the game as well so it was positive.
We went out for the second half and I was already on the pitch when I heard, 'Hey Steve, come back!' I had put Osman's shirt on for the second half!