Pienaar departed for Tottenham in last season’s January transfer window for a fee reportedly in the region of £3 million, following four years at Goodison Park.
However, the 29-year-old recently returned to Merseyside on a six-month loan deal, having mustered just ten Premier League appearances in his year at White Hart Lane, a decision Distin is delighted with.
The 34-year-old told reporters: “We really missed him when he left and we never really had a player to replace him.
“He just always wants the ball, even if he has a player sat on his back he wants the ball. That makes it easier for us at the back – we kept the ball a lot better [against Wigan, Pienaar’s first game since returning] and that was largely down to him.
“He’s a great player.”
The 1-1 draw at the DW Stadium also marked Distin’s first game for the club since hobbling off in a 2-0 defeat to Tottenham in January and the Frenchman says it was good to be back.
He continued: “I felt good. The end of the game was tough because I have not played much football lately.
“I had an injury and then came back and had another injury and that is the first time I have had two injuries in a season.
“So I was a long time out and it felt good to be back but it was very cold, there was a lot of running and I am 34 now!”