An informal chat at the SuperSport TV studios, where Gavin Hunt was more interested in asking about Steven Pienaar’s family than luring him to Bidvest Wits convinced the former Bafana Bafana captain to join the Clever Boys.
As Pienaar was presented to the media with fellow new signings including Daylon Claasen‚ Slavko Damjanovic and Bokang Tlhone on Tuesday‚ he revealed that it was Hunt’s personal touch that made the former Everton midfielder choose Wits over the glamour clubs.
New league champion Hunt and Pienaar had bumped into each other at the studios in Randburg. "Obviously, there were other options. But when I met the coach in the studio, he was more interested about my family and stuff like that and that touched me‚" Pienaar said.
"And that made it quite easy for me to make the decision.
"Joining the champions is an honour for me as well. And I want to play in Africa‚ so this was on the table for me.
"He first spoke to my brother. And my brother came to me and said: ‘I’m going to leave you to give you some space to speak with the manager’.
"And it wasn’t about me joining Wits‚ it was just about me and talking about my family.
"I said to him that when my family comes down [from the UK] I would make the decision. And I kept to my word and I gave him my answer."
Pienaar’s choice of the league champions came despite interest from bigger‚ though recently less successful‚ clubs.
He went for the small family atmosphere club with an impressive coaching staff‚ management and facilities that plays at Bidvest Stadium and trains at Sturrock Park‚ both less than 10km from the player’s tough home suburb of Westbury.
"A lot of people knew the season before that I was close to joining Orlando Pirates and it didn’t happen‚" Pienaar said.
"My kids were still in school and I wanted them to stay another year in the UK‚" he said.
"And when I came back, I didn’t speak to anyone. My agents were speaking to clubs. And they phoned me and told me about Wits.
"I have always said that I wanted to come back home and play and wanted to enjoy my football and help the young players coming through. And whatever pressure that came with‚ I would deal with."
"It is good to be back home and play in front of people from Joburg. A lot of people from Westbury are going to come to the ground, so I hope Jose [Ferreira‚ Wits’ CEO] has got enough space for them to fit in. I’m looking forward to playing my first game and help the team to defend the trophy."