Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Steven Pienaar has admitted he is relishing the chance to line up against his boyhood heroes when the London club begin their pre-season with a trip to his native South Africa.
Pienaar grew up in Johannesburg and supported local side Orlando Pirates, who Tottenham face in the 2011 Vodacom Challenge in Nelspruit next Tuesday.
The midfielder, who joined Tottenham in a £3 million move from Everton in January, began his career with Ajax Cape Town, before switching to their more famous Amsterdam-based parent club in 2001. He also spent a season with Borussia Dortmund before moving to Merseyside, initially on loan, in 2007.
And the 29-year-old is relishing the rare opportunity to play against club sides from his homeland.
"Orlando Pirates is one of the oldest teams in South Africa and from where I’m from, 90 percent of the people support them," Pienaar told Tottenham's official website.
"I’m one of those fans! I supported Pirates as a kid before I moved to Ajax Cape Town, then I supported Ajax Cape Town."
Despite not having played for his boyhood idols, Pienaar has been fortunate enough to play alongside some of the Pirates' greatest players of recent years when turning out for the national team.
"I played with Sibusiso Zuma in the national team, and [former Charlton Athetlic and Bolton Wanderers defender] Mark Fish, everyone knows him, a famous player from South Africa who played in the Premier League," Pienaar added.
"I also played with OJ Mabizela, who joined Spurs. A lot of players have come through Pirates and made it to the national team. They are a top team in South Africa."
Before facing the Pirates, Tottenham will play Kaizer Chiefs at the Peter Mokaba Stadium, Polokwane on Saturday afternoon.comments