On this Throwback Thursday, Briefly.co.za recalls the remarkable rise of one of Mzansi’s prodigal sons – Benni McCarthy.
There are very few current football figures more well-known than Benni McCarthy in South Africa.
McCarthy went from football hero to villain and then endeared himself to the South African public once again.
The former Bafana Bafana star came from humble beginnings as he grew up in Hanover Park on the notorious Cape Flats.
He first rose to prominence when Dutch giants Ajax Amsterdam signed him as a teenager in 1997.
After two solid seasons in Holland, Spanish side, Celta Vigo, then signed McCarthy for €6 million – the highest transfer fee paid for a South African player at the time.
However, McCarthy’s club career is most fondly remembered for his time at Porto, where he won the coveted Uefa Champions League during the 2003/ 2004 season.
McCarthy possessed strength and athleticism, but was also blessed with the ability to finish clinically.
These attributes saw him become an overnight sensation in Mzansi when he helped Bafana Bafana to the final of the 1998 African Cup of Nations.
With seven goals, the youngster became the joint top scorer at the tournament.
However, McCarthy suffered a slight fall from grace as disputes with SAFA resulted in him retiring from international football in 2002.
Many fans were grateful for his return in 2004 as he eventually became the top goal scorer for Bafana Bafana.
Unfortunately, the legendary striker had to deal with heartbreak as he was omitted from the Bafana squad for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Benni travelled back to Europe to complete his coaching licence and was appointed as head coach of Cape Town City in 2017.
Many music fans will also recall McCarthy’s versatility as he collaborated with TKZee in 1998 to release the smash hit ‘Shibobo’.
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