Spurs midfielder reveals Tottenham’s winning formula

STEVEN Pienaar believes that Tottenham’s Champions League success is based on striking a perfect balance between individual brilliance and teamwork.

The 29-year-old, who swapped Everton for Spurs in January, has appeared in eight of the Lilywhites’ 10 games since his move from Goodison Park to White Hart Lane – including the European ties against AC Milan.

Pienaar, who has previously played in the Champions League with Ajax, admits that the 1-0 aggregate victory over the Serie A leaders is the highlight of his brief spell in north London so far - and the �3million man believes that he has already identified Tottenham’s winning formula.

“I’m particularly enjoying playing in the Champions League again and took special satisfaction from the way we faced up to AC Milan in the second leg,” said Pienaar. “There’s no doubt that they are a big club and every player wants to take on the best in the world.

“We have a very good squad but its strength is all about quality players working within a team structure. That’s why we’re playing well. You can have a lot of great players but if that’s not blended with teamwork then it loses impact.

“Winning requires hard work and there is clearly a willingness here to roll up the sleeves and make it happen. That’s helped by the competition for places. The internal challenge suits me and the squad strength here is one of the main things that attracted me.

“As a player you don’t want to get anything for free, it’s always better if you have to work for it. I’m ready to compete for a starting place and that situation keeps everyone on their toes.”

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While Pienaar admits that a change in club is never simple, the South Africa international has been pleased with his early days at White Hart Lane – and concedes that the transition has been aided by some familiar faces.

“From the outside people think it is easy, but it can never be,” he said. “It’s always difficult when you join a new club because you have to get used to the players, the style of play and the kind of football being played - and that works in reverse because the other players have to get used to you.

“But I’ve settled in well. Since coming here I’ve quickly felt at home and it’s obviously important for any new player to be accepted by the existing group. I’ve felt welcome from day one and that’s helped me feel more relaxed and just concentrate on my football.

“It’s definitely easier in that I already knew Rafa [Van der Vaart] from our time at Ajax and Bongani [Khumalo] from the international team.”

You can read the full interview with Steven Pienaar in the April edition of Hotspur magazine – out now!