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One step beyond

Posted on 3 April 2011  - 12:00

Steven Pienaar suffered quarter-final heartbreak in the Champions League eight years ago – now he’s determined to go at least one better.

One step beyond

Steven Pienaar suffered quarter-final heartbreak in the Champions League eight years ago – now he’s determined to go at least one better.

The midfielder snapped-up from Everton in January was just 21 when he starred in Ajax’s run to the last eight of Europe’s elite competition.

The Dutch side – including Jari Litmanen, Wesley Sneijder and Zlatan Ibrahimovic - faced AC Milan in the quarter-final and after a goalless draw in the first leg, Steven scored the goal that looked set to take his side to glory and a place in the last four.

That goal made it 2-2 with just 12 minutes remaining in the San Siro and Ajax were heading through on away goals.

But it wasn’t to be. Jon Dhal Tomasson struck for Milan in injury time, Ajax went out and the Italians went on to lift the trophy in the final at Old Trafford.

“We were a few seconds away from the semi-final,” recalled Steven. “It was heartbreaking for us at the time but hopefully now I can go one step further.

“We had a very young team full of potential at Ajax but we lost against the best team at that time - AC Milan went on to win the trophy.

"It was sad but as I said, hopefully I'll go one step further with Spurs.”

Steven cannot wait to step out at the famous Bernabeu in the first leg on Tuesday night. “We're playing one of the biggest teams in the world and every player will be motivated to go out and play against the best.

“If you want to be the best, you have to go out there and compete against the best.

“We're up against one of the biggest teams in the world and from our point of view, we have to go there, believe in ourselves and make the most of it.

“It's a good chance for us to show the world that we've got potential as a team and hopefully we can go one step further than Real Madrid.”