Pienaar quits international football
South Africa captain Steven Pienaar has retired from international football just three months before his country hosts the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations.
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22. Steven Pienaar
The Everton midfielder's decision was confirmed by the South African Football Association (SAFA) on Tuesday as newly-appointed national team coach Gordon Igesund revealed his squad to face Poland and Kenya in friendlies next week.
"I'm proud to have played for and captained my country. For that I thank you," Pienaar said via a statement read out SAFA's chief executive, Robin Peterson, at the news conference.
"He's given us 10 years of service and his body is tired," Igesund told reporters.
Pienaar made his international debut in 2002 and has featured for the Bafana at two World Cups.
But he has decided to now put his club first, having withdrawn from last month's international matches against Brazil and Mozambique with an injury, only to appear in Everton's starting line-up just days later.
Pienaar, who turned 30 in March, admitted the toil of international travel had helped persuade him to call time on his South Africa career.
"After having given more than 10 years' service to the national team I am now at a stage where physically I am struggling to balance the demands of playing in England with the number of games required by South Africa," he said.
"I am proud to have represented and captained my country.
"There is a lot of very good young talent coming through and perhaps it is time for them to be given an opportunity.
"I wish the coaching staff and the players all the very best for the future."
The decision is a boost for Toffees manager David Moyes, although he had no influence in persuading the midfielder to quit.
"We had no input into Steven Pienaar's decision to retire from international football," he told evertonfc.com.
"I have never discouraged any player from playing for his national team, in fact I encourage it.
"Steven has made his own decision and we support him in whatever he chooses to do."