Pienaar's Mandela Tribute
'We have lost a great father,' says Blues midfielder.
In a distinguished playing career, Steven Pienaar has had the fortune of competing in the English, German and Dutch top divisions.
He has captained his country and participated at World Cups, bringing joy to millions of South Africans.
According to the midfielder, none of this would have been possible had it not been for the inspiration of one man - the late Nelson Mandela.
Mandela passed away last Thursday, aged 95.
In light of the news, evertontv spoke to Pienaar to discover the influence South Africa's first black president had on his life.
He said: "We have lost a great father. I have met him a few times and the words that came out of his mouth were always inspirational. He loved his sport, he loved his nation.
“What he’s done is just unbelievable. His heart was so big. If it wasn’t for him I don’t think I’d be sitting here today and I’m really grateful for that.
“To forgive what happened in the past and to move forward, that’s one thing I think the whole world will remember him for - to always shake your enemy’s hand.
"He believed that sport can bring people together. We’ve seen it in the past - in 1995 it was an incredible moment for the whole country when he went up wearing the Springboks' shirt. It was just something you’ll never see again.
“We know as a nation that his legacy will live forever and he will always be in our hearts."
Pienaar will always remember the first time he had the privilege of meeting Mandela.
He recalled: "The first time I met him I was 15-years-old. We played a tournament in Italy with school and we did quite well.
“We went back and were all in class when the principal came over to us and said ‘You guys have to go to Pretoria to meet the President’. Everyone was shocked.
“When we got there we walked into the room and I can still remember his voice just coming out.
"He said to us ‘You guys have the opportunity in your hands - you can do something with your lives. Sport is the most important thing that can bring smiles to people’s faces. Even in bad times and in good times. Just remember you have something special and you have to keep working hard’.
“I’ve always said to myself those words will stick in my head and I’ll do everything that I can to reach my goals. He made it possible for us, for all South Africans."