Benni McCarthy has taken the next step in an in­cred­i­ble ca­reer in foot­ball af­ter be­ing un­veiled as coach of Cape Town City. The game has taken him places he would never have dreamed of and he has set a num­ber of bench­marks for South African play­ers. KICK

Kick Off - - Front Page - BY NICK SAID Twit­ter: @nick­said


A 17-year-old Benni McCarthy signs for lower league Seven Stars, owned by Rob Moore and coached by Gavin Hunt, hav­ing been spot­ted play­ing for lo­cal Han­nover Park side Cru­saders FC. He would score 39 goals in 49 games with Stars.


McCarthy came to na­tional promi­nence when he nets two goals away at Kaizer Chiefs while on loan at Cape Town Spurs, part of a tu­mul­tuous rise that would see him top-score at the African Youth Cham­pi­onship and with the Player of the Tour­na­ment award, join Ajax Am­s­ter­dam and make his Bafana Bafana de­but against The Nether­lands. He also plays in the Fifa Un­der-20 World Cup.


Scores four goals in 13 min­utes against Namibia at the African Na­tions Cup as Bafana Bafana go on to lose in the fi­nal, though he picks up the top-scorer and Player of the Tour­na­ment gongs. The same year he scores South Africa’s first ever World Cup fi­nals goal in a 1-1 draw with Den­mark, and helps Ajax to the Dutch League and Cup ti­tle.


Af­ter scor­ing 20 goals in 35 starts for Ajax, Span­ish LaLiga club Celta Vigo pay €6-mil­lion for McCarthy. He bat­tles to es­tab­lish him­self at the club and in four sea­sons scored 19 goals in 43 starts, but spends a lot of time on the bench.


He spends the sec­ond half of the 2001/02 sea­son on loan at Por­tuguese side FC Porto, where he ex­cels un­der Jose Mour­inho, net­ting 12 goals in 10 starts. But the club can­not af­ford to pur­chase him out­right from Celta Vigo and he goes back to Spain. Also that year, he be­comes the first South African to score at two World Cup fi­nals af­ter net­ting against Spain in South Korea/Ja­pan.


Af­ter one sea­son back in Spain, FC Porto find the money to buy McCarthy from Celta Vigo for €7.856-mil­lion. He finds his scor­ing touch im­me­di­ately, win­ning the Por­tuguese league Golden Boot af­ter

scor­ing 20 goals in his first sea­son, and helps the team to an un­likely vic­tory in the Uefa Cham­pi­ons League. He scores two goals against boy­hood idols Manch­ester United in the sec­ond round to oust them from the com­pe­ti­tion – a game Sir Alex Fer­gu­son still bat­tles to for­get.


McCarthy doesn’t quite re­dis­cover his magic with Porto af­ter Jose Mour­inho leaves for Chelsea at the end of the 2003/04 sea­son, and things are com­pounded when his old Celta Vigo boss Víc­tor Fernán­dez, with who he had pre­vi­ous run-ins, takes over the Por­tuguese club. He pushes for a move to English Premier­ship club Ever­ton as a re­place­ment for Wayne Rooney, but Porto does not sell and it wasn’t un­til 2006 that he ful­fils his dream of play­ing in Eng­land when he joins Black­burn Rovers for £2.5-mil­lion. He leaves Porto as a league cham­pion again af­ter 55 goals in 109 starts.


Fin­ishes sec­ond top-scorer in the Pre­mier League in his first sea­son at Rovers with 18 goals be­hind Di­dier Drogba, which would be the high­light of his four-sea­son stay at Ewood Park that saw him net 52 goals in 105 starts.


Scores his 31st and fi­nal goal for Bafana Bafana in a friendly against Ghana in Oc­to­ber. He re­mains the lead­ing scorer in na­tional team his­tory, two ahead of Shaun Bartlett’s tally of 29.


McCarthy’s last overseas club be­comes West Ham United, who he joins in 2010, but it proves ill-fated as in­jury and sub­se­quent weight gain keeps him side­lined. Within a year, he ac­cepts a £1.5mil­lion pay-off to leave, hav­ing made only two Pre­mier League starts and 14 ap­pear­ances in all com­pe­ti­tions, with­out find­ing the back of the net.


McCarthy re­turns to the PSL to play for Or­lando Pi­rates, where he wins the league ti­tle, MTN8 and Telkom Knock­out in his first sea­son.


McCarthy wins an 80th and fi­nal cap for Bafana Bafana, but his ap­pear­ance against Brazil in Gor­don Ige­sund’s first match in charge of the na­tional team lasts just 11 min­utes be­fore he is forced off with in­jury. His na­tional team ca­reer lasts 15 years, longer than any other Bafana player.


Re­tires from play­ing, though he later makes a guest ap­pear­ance for Scot­tish Low­land league club White­hill Wel­fare FC in a pre­sea­son friendly match ver­sus a Hamilton Aca­dem­i­cal XI in 2014. McCarthy was liv­ing in Scot­land af­ter mar­ry­ing Scot­tish model Stacy Munro that same year.


McCarthy joins Bel­gian side Sint Truiden as as­sis­tant coach un­der Cape Town-raised coach Chris O’Lough­lin. To­gether they steer the newly-pro­moted club to 13th in the 2015/16 Bel­gian league, but just one point above the rel­e­ga­tion zone. Both de­part at the end of the cam­paign.


Joins Cape Town City as head coach on June 12, his first job lead­ing a tech­ni­cal team. Sends me­dia sparks fly­ing, once more.

(Be­low) McCarthy en­joyed life more off the pitch than on it in Spain.

(Above) McCarthy was the Pre­mier League’s sec­ond­high­est goalscorer in 2007.

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