Pienaar reveals how he forced a move away from Spurs

It was a busy end to the transfer window for Harry Redknapp and Tottenham in January 2012.

Right in the mix for a Champions League place after a good start to the season, the Spurs boss added some more firepower to his frontline with the addition of Louis Saha from Everton.

It wouldn’t be the only deal the Lilywhites did with David Moyes’ side as Steven Pienaar also headed in the opposite direction after an unhappy time in the capital.


Excellent for Everton since his move from Borussia Dortmund in 2007, the South African just couldn’t find his best form for Spurs and headed back to Merseyside on loan 12 months after departing.

A year earlier it appeared that the classy midfielder would actually be heading to west London to join Chelsea instead before Redknapp intervened,

“Harry Redknapp, that’s what happened,” Pienaar told The Athletic. “When you meet him and start talking to him, he makes you change your mind.

“I made the right decision to join Spurs, a team playing Champions League football, but the problem was one of us was always injured so we couldn’t get the partnership going. I was frustrated and out for a long time.

“I didn’t have enough patience when I came back because I just wanted to play football. Gareth moved to Real Madrid, I moved back to Everton.”

In and out of the team in his time at White Hart Lane and with chances in the side hard to come by with Gareth Bale playing down his flank, Pienaar decided that he needed to move on to play regularly and set his heart on a return to Goodison Park.

An unused substitute on transfer deadline day in January 2012 as Spurs beat Wigan 3-1, the player revealed what he told Redknapp to ensure that his move back to Everton went through.

“I told the manager I wanted to leave in the dressing room,” added the South African. “The manager told me that he was going to put me in the team there and then. And that I could leave after the game.

“I played the game and then Harry said: “I can’t let you go. I want you to stay. I will need you in the second half of the season.”

“But Boss,” I said, “if you had wanted me to stay then you would have played me. I want to go on loan to get match fitness and then come back and play here next season. My mind is already in Liverpool.”

“Harry wouldn’t let me go, so I said: “If you won’t let me go, I’ll just go to South Africa for the rest of the season and you can fine me all you like. I just want to play football and not be a number.”

“Eventually, he gave in. I’d packed my suitcase and I went straight back to Liverpool that night.”

Pienaar returned to Everton that evening and Spurs got a player for themselves from the Toffees as Saha joined on a free transfer.

Proving his worth in the Premier League with Fulham and Manchester United previously, the Frenchman finished the season with four goals in 12 games but that would be it in terms of his Tottenham career.

“I was trying to be professional and focused but I knew the offer from Tottenham and in some way, I wanted to go,” Saha told The Athletic when discussing his move to Spurs. “If the manager [David Moyes] had told me he really wanted me, I might have thought twice but he didn’t.

“Harry had a totally different approach but I didn’t go to Tottenham looking at the manager though — it was more how his team played and their results. I wasn’t afraid of how Moyes communicated. I knew he had a game plan.

“Tottenham had another way of doing things. Building a team is very specific and players need to know where they fit and what they can bring.

“It resonated with me and I felt I had something to add to Tottenham, like with my previous clubs, although maybe less later.”


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