South Africa captain Steven Pienaar has quit international football
Steven Pienaar has retired from international football just months before South Africa host the Africa Cup of Nations.
Last Updated: 02/10/12 4:31pm
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.
Pienaar said in a statement read out by the SAFA's chief executive, Robin Peterson: "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.
"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."
Pienaar made his international debut in 2002 and has featured for the Bafana at two World Cups.
But speculation had grown he was planning to call time on international football, having withdrawn from last month's international matches against Brazil and Mozambique with an injury, only to appear in Everton's starting line-up just days later.
Toffees manager David Moyes insisted he had no influence on the 30-year-old's decision to quit, telling Everton's official website: "We had no input into Steven Pienaar's decision.
"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."