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Arsenal (A) Sun 1 Mar 2015, 14:05, Barclays Premier League

by Adam Clark @efc_adamclark

Steven Pienaar has revealed he set his heart on a permanent return to Everton as soon as his loan spell at the Club came to an end in May.

The midfielder originally departed Goodison Park for Tottenham Hotspur in January 2011 but rejoined the Blues on a temporary deal earlier this year having failed to hold down a regular first-team place at White Hart Lane.

His four-month stint back on Merseyside was an unmitigated success, the South African's form helping David Moyes' men achieve a top-seven Premier League finish.

And the 30-year-old says getting the good times back made him realise Everton is his rightful home.

"At the end of last season, I was sad to say goodbye,” explained Pienaar as he was again unveiled as an Everton player on Friday. “I spoke to the manager just before I left and that's when I made up my mind that I really wanted to come back to the Club.

"I made it clear to the manager that if the opportunity came up I'd really want to come back and he promised me he'd do whatever it took to make it happen. I'm glad he showed so much trust and belief in me and he brought me back.

"During my holidays I did have a thought about it [my future] but then I followed my heart and told myself I'd made up my mind already."

Moyes' bid to bring Pienaar back was complicated by Tottenham's decision to part with Harry Redknapp at the end of last term.

When the midfielder returned for pre-season training he was greeted by a new manager, Andre Villas-Boas, but quickly put the Portuguese in the picture over his wishes.

"When I went back to training there was a new manager, most of the players were injured, some had gone out on loan and come back and the manager had a big squad," said Pienaar. "We sat down and talked and he asked me how I felt, and I told him that it was clear that before he came I wanted to move, that nothing would change my mind but if nothing came up I would give everything for Tottenham. He understood my situation."

Ultimately, Pienaar's time in North London brought just five Premier League starts. And while the midfielder insists he never felt out of place at White Hart Lane, he confessed his family longed for a return to Merseyside.

"My family, they never felt at home in London," he said. "For me, it wasn't bad - I feel at home whenever I go. But as soon as I moved back for the loan spell they wanted to come back here and sometimes you have to consider that as well. The main thing is for me to be happy and I'm happy at this Club.

"It's been part of my family since I joined the first time and it always has been a part of my family."
Now back where he feels he belongs, the Johannesburg-born star insists he has no regrets over his time with his former employers.

His focus now, however, is solely on shining once again in royal blue.

"It's football. Wherever you go you give 100 per cent but if, for whatever reason, it doesn't work, you just have to keep your head up, move on and leave the past behind you," he said. "That's what I did - I gave it everything and it didn't work out. But I left with my head held up.

“It's been one of those pre-seasons so far where I've not known whether I've been coming or going. It was frustrating for a while, staying in a hotel, not knowing what's happening with your future. But hopefully now that it's all done I can focus just on football and enjoy it again.

"This Club [Everton] gave me the opportunity to play in the Premier League and whenever I've had the opportunity to come back the decision has been an easy one."

Could Pienaar make his latest Everton comeback against Blackpool on Sunday? Tune in to evertontv LIVE to find out. Full live coverage of the game from Bloomfield Road - with special guest commentary from Blues legend Graeme Sharp - is available for just £3.99. For more information or to buy now, click here.

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