After retiring from international football, Steven Pienaar is not the most popular South African footballer. The public and Safa administration were very critical of him, as it was clear that he can still perform for Bafana, while producing his best for Everton in the English Premier League.
By turning his back on South Africa, Pienaar would be able to extend his club career, as players in their 30s can add another year or two to their record. That also makes a massive difference to the worth of your final club contract.
However in Africa, players such as Benni McCarthy have retired in the past, only to decide to return for big tournaments such as the World Cup. So, with Pienaar expressing that he misses the fans, there might be hope that he could return to the national team if Bafana qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
“I’m going to put it on record just in case I’m late for the game. Definitely, I’m going to watch it,” Pienaar told Everton TV.
“I miss the supporters, but not the football,” he said. “I’m playing here every week so it’s not a big thing.
“I’ve been watching everything and I’ve never seen an Africa Cup of Nations so tight. There have been a lot of draws and you can see that the competition between the teams is really high.
“Hopefully South Africa can go on to the semi-finals and beyond.”
Pienaar has been in the form of his life for Everton this season, not only being influential in their rise up the table, but also scoring goals consistently. Bafana fans can only dream of a line-up with Pienaar and Oldham captain Dean Furman in the centre of the park.
"It has been a really good year for me. I hadn't played with a smile on my face for a long time and this year I just played with a smile every day. I was just happy and I enjoyed myself."
On the other hand, after not expressing his regret at leaving Bafana, it remains to be seen if the fans will warm up to him with that smile on his face.