Pienaar encouraged by Dolly

Both Pienaar and Dolly are from the township of Westbury in Johannesburg which often attracts negative headlines. 

Yet they have both provided inspiring tales of rising from there to play in Europe, with Dolly currently at French club HSC Montpellier while Pienaar spent 16 years on the same continent.

“We talk via phone, via twitter as well and I send him messages at times encouraging him to keep going,” says Pienaar.

“I am happy for him and he has told me that he wants to take the same path that I took. He is going in the right direction and might even go beyond me. He needs the support behind him to make it. I have a strong mom who was always supportive of me and Keagan has a strong father supporting him. I don’t think his father will accept it for him to be coming back after two years and that is good. When I speak to him [Dolly] it is more as friends. We don’t talk as in ‘I am Steven and you are young’.

“We talk as normal in such a way that when he has something to tell me we talk. We are boys from the same neighbourhood and when I give my advice it is up to him to listen, though so far he has taken all the advice and I am happy,” he reveals.

The veteran midfielder adds that the reason why South African players don’t last the distance in Europe is down to being spoilt and wanting to enjoy the comforts of being ‘the man’ at home.

“My colleagues that side [Europe] always asked me about why South Africans like going home. I always told them that we are spoilt and want to enjoy the good life in South Africa. We have a beautiful country and if you get a good earning in South Africa you can live a comfortable life, though it is not going to last forever. So that is the problem with our players, they are too spoilt so much that they don’t want to go out and go through that pain and suffering. When you finish training you want to hang around your friends and be ‘the man’. So I think that is the main problem and also you need the support behind that will tell you that ‘hey, you are doing a wrong thing’.

“The guys from Ghana used to tell me that when I go back to my village, life is hard and I have to walk two miles to get water. That is why they are so hungry to succeed. With us we stay in the township and you can get water for free and that is the small example of the mind-set that I am talking about. When I went [to Europe] the first time I was with boys from Ghana and they said to me there is no chance I am going back home because I don’t want to go and live in the village and I said to myself ‘whoa, I thought I had it tough’. I told myself I will have to switch my mind-set and be like them and just push myself. Then with my mom behind me it became easier,” explains Pienaar.