Steven Pienaar says he feels rejuvenated after finally ending his injury ‘nightmare’.
Following a distressing 2015, when he only played in one competitive match for Everton’s first-team, the South African has enjoyed a much brighter start to the new year.
Having been plagued by knee and soft tissue problems, Pienaar made a comeback in the FA Cup third round tie against Dagenham & Redbridge and has since gone on to feature three more times, most recently against Swansea City last Sunday.
He now has a much more brighter outlook after admitting last April that he even considered retiring
, such were his fitness issues.
“What can I say? It’s been a nightmare,” Pienaar, 33, told evertontv. “But I’ve kept going and it was important for me not to lose hope.
“At the end of the day, I feel happy now. The last year has been a real learning experience but I feel good.
“I feel like a seven-year-old. Even when I go out on the training pitch, I’m just happy that I have made it so far after a year of so many different injuries. I am enjoying every day of it.”
Pienaar played 70 minutes against Swansea City after stepping off the bench early in the game to replace Kevin Mirallas.
He is now targeting more minutes and those could come in Sunday’s FA Cup fourth round tie against Carlisle United at Brunton Park.
“I have felt stronger every week,” added the former Ajax and Dortmund man. “I didn’t expect to get on that early against Swansea.
“Unfortunately for Kevin, he got injured early in the game. Mentally you always have to be ready. I was hoping to get some minutes, but I was delighted to push from 20 minutes previously to nearly 70 minutes. The result didn’t go our way but for me it was another step in the right direction.
“I’m steadily getting stronger. It’s the goal to get fitter every game.”