Pienaar rues disruption

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Pienaar, who is on a season-long loan at Everton from German side Borussia Dortmund, has been nothing short of outstanding for The Toffees, who are on a 13-game unbeaten run that includes 11 wins and a two draws.

He has been winning rave reviews in the English Press and himself believes he is in some of the best form of his career, but faces up to six weeks away on national duty with Bafana in Ghana, starting with a training camp in Durban on January 5.

_quote“Things are going so well here [at Everton] and you think, 'why's it coming up now?',” he told the Daily Mail newspaper. "Going away for a few weeks makes it a difficult situation. I can't do anything about it though. We are going to write a letter to see if I can meet up a bit later, but it's up to the coach, Carlos Alberto Parreira. I hope he says yes."

The 25-year-old already faces the prospect of missing Everton’s two-legged Carling Cup semifinal with Chelsea, and, should Bafana go the distance, could return too late of the first leg of their Uefa Cup Last 32 first leg against SK Brann.

His excellent season is in stark contrast to the last campaign with Dortmund, where he felt isolated by his own teammates.

"They didn't accept me in the group," he explains. "I don't know why. It was OK when I first went but then some new players came in and they were always talking about me in the newspapers, blaming the midfield when we lost a game. That's when you realise things aren't going well. The coach has to keep protecting you but when he got fired I was fighting the battle alone.

"Coming over here was an opportunity to enjoy football again, get the feeling back, have a smile on your face every day," he says. "The dressing room was so quiet in Germany. You would arrive in the morning, go to your locker, get ready for training without talking to anybody, then leave straight after. Those first six months – I have never experienced anything like it before."

Meanwhile, the Westbury-born star has also spoken about his charitable interests back home.

"We give out presents to single mothers who are in jail with their little kids,” he says. “We also look after the old people close to my neighbourhood who live in homes - give them Christmas lunch.

"As well as that, we try to give young boys who come out of prison a second chance. Because they have a record they don't get any opportunities. But we are all human beings. Everyone should get a chance."

He is also involved with a Dutch Charity, Church in Action, who do social upliftment work in South Africa.

"It deals in human abuse and child abuse. In my position I can always help, make people aware of what's going on. We go to sponsors, try and use my name to get money. If not, I will just donate out of my own pocket.

"As a family we have always been religious. Even when I go back home now I always go to church. I'm forced to. My mother will drag me out of bed on a Sunday, even when it's the off-season."