Benni McCarthy

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Benni McCarthy
McCarthy warming up for West Ham United in 2010
Personal information
Full name Benedict Saul McCarthy[1]
Date of birth (1977-11-12) 12 November 1977 (age 43)
Place of birth Cape Town, South Africa
Height 1.83 m (6 ft 0 in)[2]
Position(s) Forward
Club information
Current team
AmaZulu F.C. (manager)
Youth career
Young Pirates
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1995–1997 Seven Stars 49 (39)
1996–1997Cape Town Spurs (loan) 7 (3)
1997–1999 Ajax 36 (20)
1999–2003 Celta Vigo 66 (10)
2002Porto (loan) 11 (12)
2003–2006 Porto 74 (34)
2006–2010 Blackburn Rovers 109 (37)
2010–2011 West Ham United 11 (0)
2011–2013 Orlando Pirates 24 (10)
Total 387 (161)
National team
South Africa U-23 13
1997–2012 South Africa 79 (31)
Teams managed
2015–2016 Sint-Truiden (assistant)
2017–2019 Cape Town City
2020– AmaZulu F.C.
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Benedict Saul "Benni" McCarthy (born 12 November 1977) is a South African coach and former footballer who was appointed head coach of the Durban based PSL team, AmaZulu Football Club on 14 December 2020.[3]

McCarthy is the South Africa national team's all-time top scorer with 31 goals.[4] He is also the only South African to win the UEFA Champions League, doing so with Porto in 2003–04.

Early life[edit]

McCarthy was born in Cape Town and grew up in Hanover Park on the Cape Flats,[5] an area notorious for its high unemployment rate and gang violence. He is the son of Dudley and Dora McCarthy and has two brothers and a sister.[6] His older brother is Jerome McCarthy, a former professional footballer who played for Kaizer Chiefs and Manning Rangers, among other clubs, while his younger brother Mark played football at Franklin Pierce University in the United States.[6]

McCarthy began playing at a local side called Young Pirates, which was managed by his uncles. He then joined the youth structures of a local amateur club called Crusaders. At age 17, he was signed by first division club Seven Stars.[7] He is managed by ExtraTime S.L.

Club career[edit]

Seven Stars[edit]

Playing for Seven Stars, the 18-year-old McCarthy scored 1 goal in 29 matches in the 1995–96 season, followed by another 12 goals in 20 matches, which earned him a transfer to Cape Town Spurs, which two years later merged with Seven Stars to form Dutch club Ajax's feeder team, Ajax Cape Town.


In 1997, after an impressive showing at the African Youth Championship and FIFA World Youth Championship in Malaysia, he joined Ajax in the Eredivisie, where he scored nine goals and was crowned champion in his first season. After a relatively successful 1998–99 season, he was sold to Spanish side Celta de Vigo for a transfer fee reported to be over €6 million, at the time the most expensive transfer for a South African player.

Celta Vigo[edit]

Although regarded as one of the best African players at the time, McCarthy never established himself as a regular choice for Celta's manager, Víctor Fernández. After two poor seasons at the Galician club, he was loaned to struggling Porto in the 2001–02 season, where he soon rediscovered the form that took him to Europe.

At Porto, McCarthy played under the then newly appointed coach José Mourinho for an underperforming team that since winning the European Cup in 1987 had never been quite good enough to challenge for the top honours in Europe. However, that would soon change.

After representing Bafana Bafana in the 2002 African Nations Cup, where his national side was eliminated in the quarter-finals, McCarthy returned to Porto, where he became the main force behind the team's recovery. He helped them to third place in the Primeira Liga and automatic qualification for the UEFA Cup by scoring an impressive 12 goals in 11 matches, but Porto's finances did not allow them to keep the player, despite the desire of both sides to continue.

In 2002–03, McCarthy therefore returned to Celta, where he spent much of his time on the substitutes' bench as a squad player as Porto captured the Taça de Portugal, the Portuguese League and the UEFA Cup. When Porto sold striker Hélder Postiga to Tottenham Hotspur ahead of the 2003–04 season, Porto finally acquired McCarthy for a sum of €7.856 million,[8] (later re-sold part of the rights to GestiFute and First Portuguese Football Players Fund.)


For the 2003–04 Primeira Liga season, he earned the Golden Boot award (with 20 goals in 23 matches) on the season's final matchday with a hat-trick, and was instrumental in Porto's run in the 2003–04 UEFA Champions League, which they won. He scored two goals against Manchester United to defeat them in the second round.

Blackburn Rovers[edit]

On 25 July 2006, McCarthy flew out to England to undergo a medical and probable contract signing to join Blackburn Rovers.[9] Three days later, he signed a four-year contract with Blackburn for a £2.5 million transfer fee.

After a disappointing performance in the side's 3–0 defeat to Portsmouth, McCarthy found the net on his debut at Ewood Park against Everton on 23 August 2006. McCarthy further endeared himself to Rovers fans, scoring a goal on his European debut for the club in a 2–2 against Red Bull Salzburg in the UEFA Cup, and scoring another in the return leg. He finished second top scorer in the Premier League in 2006–07 with 18 league goals, as well as 24 in all competitions.

The following season got off to a poor start for McCarthy when he was stretchered off in the Premier League opening day win against Middlesbrough. McCarthy was out of action for a few weeks and found first team opportunities limited, largely because the form of new striking arrival Roque Santa Cruz. Despite being limited to largely substitute appearances, McCarthy did find the net 11 times in all competitions.

In the 2008–09 season, McCarthy appeared to be out of favour with new manager Paul Ince, as the club's strike force was strengthened with the arrivals of Carlos Villanueva and Robbie Fowler to join the already established Roque Santa Cruz, Jason Roberts and Matt Derbyshire. However, McCarthy answered these critics by scoring his first goal of the campaign – a 94th-minute equaliser in a Premier League match against Middlesbrough.

In all competitions for Blackburn, McCarthy scored 52 goals in 140 matches.

West Ham United[edit]

McCarthy completed a move to West Ham United for an undisclosed fee on transfer deadline day, 1 February 2010. He signed a two and a half-year contract that was due to run until the summer of 2012. He made his Premier League debut for West Ham against Burnley at Turf Moor in a 2–1 defeat on 6 February 2010, where he sustained an injury which would keep him out for six weeks.[10] In February 2011, having played just 326 minutes of football, making only three starts and failing to score any goals for West Ham, McCarthy was omitted from West Ham's 25-man squad for the remainder of the 2010–11 season. He was also offered a £1 million pay-off in exchange for terminating his contract prematurely.[11][12] In April 2011, McCarthy left West Ham by mutual agreement after the parties agreed to terminate his contract. [13] He made only two Premier League starts and fourteen appearances in all competitions scoring no goals.[14]

Orlando Pirates[edit]

After leaving West Ham, McCarthy trained with former club Ajax Cape Town during the ABSA Premier League off-season. On 2 August, Orlando Pirates confirmed the signing of McCarthy on a two-year deal, ending his 14-year spell in Europe. On signing, McCarthy said, "I'm thrilled and delighted and hope I can show my appreciation by coming in and playing good football and hope to score as many goals as possible to put the team where they belong." [15] McCarthy began the season by scoring on debut and vowed to score more goals.

McCarthy scored two goals in the final half-hour to help the Pirates defeat the Golden Arrows 4–2 on 19 May 2012 to retain their Premier League title.[16] He finished his successful season with ten league goals, ending the campaign as the fourth leading goal-scorer in the Premier League, helping the club secure their second successive treble. Having already won a league championship with Ajax in the Netherlands as well with Porto both domestically and in Europe, McCarthy would make football history by winning the league championship with Orlando Pirates in South Africa. This meant McCarthy was the first South African footballer to win three league titles with three different football clubs on two different continents.[17]

McCarthy, who is affectionately known as "Big Brother" by the Orlando Pirates faithful, was handed a red card for dissent in the MTN 8 secondleg semi-final played on 25 August 2012 after he charged Franklin Cale after a reckless challenge on Daine Klate. This incident lead to protesting fans whom, in their view, Cale was equally guilty in the incident and should have also been shown red. McCarthy announced his retirement from professional football on 6 June 2013, aged 35.[18]

Whitehill Welfare[edit]

On 13 July 2014, McCarthy made a guest appearance for Scottish Lowland league club Whitehill Welfare in a pre-season friendly against a Hamilton Academical XI, scoring in the 14th minute and providing an assist for Whitehill Welfare player Kerr Dodds to score in the 20th minute.[19][20] McCarthy has a connection with the club through one of the Whitehill players, John Hall.[21]

International career[edit]

McCarthy made his full international debut for South Africa in a friendly against the Netherlands on 4 June 1997.

Along with veteran Egyptian striker Hossam Hassan, McCarthy was the joint top scorer in the 1998 African Cup of Nations in Burkina Faso with seven goals, including four in 13 minutes against Namibia. In addition, he was named Player of the Tournament.

The 1998 FIFA World Cup in France was the first time South Africa's national football team had reached the later stages of the competition, and McCarthy was one of their key players. After a 3–0 defeat against eventual champions France, South Africa played their second match against Denmark. Trailing since the 13th minute, McCarthy tied the game at 1–1 in the 52nd minute and gave South Africa a chance for qualification after a 1–1 draw. However, the third match also ended in a draw, against Saudi Arabia, which left the South Africans in third place and eliminated from the competition.

The 2002 World Cup saw history repeating for the South Africans. After a 2–2 draw against Paraguay and a 1–0 victory over Slovenia, McCarthy's 30th-minute equaliser in the last match against Spain was not enough, as South Africa eventually lost 3–2 and finished with another third place in the group stage.

There was often conflict over McCarthy's lack of participation in national team matches (whose interests often collide with his club's) and he actually retired from international matches after the 2002 World Cup. However, he returned to the national team in 2004 and eventually set the record for most international goals for South Africa; McCarthy's strike in the second half of a 3–0 win against Paraguay in a 2008 friendly eclipsed the previous record of 29 goals held by Shaun Bartlett.

Prior to the 2010 World Cup, held in South Africa, McCarthy announced his support for the Gun-Free World Cup campaign being run by International Action Network on Small Arms. He said, "This World Cup will be the biggest in football history and the fact that it is taking place in South Africa is a chance for us to show the world everything that is good about our country. It's great that guns will be banned from stadiums – it's going to be a fantastic party, and guns have no place in that."[22] After struggling with his fitness and facing criticism in his nation for being overweight, McCarthy was omitted from the final South African 23-man squad for the 2010 World Cup, which was announced on 1 June 2010.[23]

Managerial and coaching career[edit]


Living in Edinburgh since 2013, McCarthy confirmed in April 2015, that he had joined the coaching staff of Alan Stubbs at Scottish Hibernian FC.[24] Stubbs had invited McCarthy so he could just learn the coaching side of things. McCarthy knew Stubbs back from their playing days when McCarthy was at Blackburn Rovers and Stubbs was at Everton. McCarthy said, that he was going to help out with the U20s, and assisting with the first team.


In February 2015, he did a short internship at Sint-Truidense VV club under Yannick Ferrera. On 8 September 2015, McCarthy was appointed assistant manager to manager Chris O'Loughlin, who replaced Yannick Ferrera.[25] Working his way through the different tiers of the UEFA Coaching Badges system, McCarthy met O'Loughlin.

On 20 April 2016, McCarthy stopped working with Sint-Truiden for personal reasons, after it was previously announced that his contract was not renewed.[26]

Cape Town City FC[edit]

On 13 June 2017, McCarthy was unveiled as the new Cape Town City head coach,[27] replacing Eric Tinkler, who moved to manage SuperSport United. On 4 November 2019, McCarthy was dismissed as head coach of Cape Town City after just two wins in 18 games .

AmaZulu FC[edit]

On 14 December 2020, McCarthy was unveiled as the new AmaZulu F.C. head coach, replacing Ayanda Dlamini, who stepped down from the position on 7 December 2020.

Personal life[edit]

In 2004, McCarthy married Maria Santos from Spain. They have three daughters together: Minna, Mya and Allegra. In 2007, they separated.[28] In May 2014, McCarthy married Scottish model Stacey Munro. Together, they have one daughter, Lima Rose.[29]

Club career statistics[edit]

Club Season League Cup[a] Europe[b] Other[c] Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Ajax 1997–98 17 9 1 0 5 1 23 10
1998–99 19 11 1 0 5 0 25 11
Total 36 20 2 0 10 1 48 21
Celta Vigo 1999–00 31 8 0 0 10 6 41 14
2000–01 19 0 2 0 6 0 27 0
2001–02 2 0 0 0 3 1 5 1
2002–03 14 2 0 0 5 3 19 5
Total 66 10 2 0 24 10 92 20
Porto (loan) 2001–02 11 12 1 1 12 13
Porto 2003–04 29 20 5 1 11 4 2 0 47 25
2004–05 23 11 1 0 8 3 3 0 35 14
2005–06 23 3 4 3 4 1 31 7
Total 86 46 11 5 23 8 5 0 124 58
Blackburn Rovers 2006–07 36 18 6 3 8 3 50 24
2007–08 31 8 3 1 4 2 38 11
2008–09 28 10 5 3 33 13
2009–10 14 1 5 3 19 4
Total 109 37 19 10 12 5 140 52
West Ham United 2009–10 5 0 0 0 5 0
2010–11 6 0 3 0 9 0
Total 11 0 3 0 14 0
European Career Total 308 113 37 15 69 24 5 0 418 151






Orlando Pirates


In popular culture[edit]

In 1998, McCarthy collaborated with South African kwaito music group TKZee in "Shibobo". The song released in the run-up to the 1998 World Cup in France samples greatly on "The Final Countdown" by Europe and features McCarthy rapping part of the lyrics. He also appears in the football-themed music video for the song. Sales of the single topped the 100,000 mark in just over a month in South Africa, making "Shibobo" the fastest and biggest selling CD single by TKZee or other South African recording artists. The song was also a hit in other African music charts. The song enjoyed a comeback in a re-release in 2010–11.




  1. ^ "List of Players under Written Contract Registered Between 01/02/2010 and 28/02/2010" (PDF). The Football Association. p. 6. Archived from the original (PDF) on 12 October 2012.
  2. ^ "Premier League Player Profile". Premier League. Archived from the original on 1 October 2012. Retrieved 4 April 2011.
  3. ^ "Confirmed: Benni Returns To The Dugout". Soccer Laduma. 14 December 2020.
  4. ^ "Benni McCarthy urges South Africa strikers to break his record". 11 November 2011. Retrieved 23 November 2011.
  5. ^ Mitten, Andy Vianney (22 February 2004). "Benni's shop window of opportunity". The Independent. London. Retrieved 18 April 2009.
  6. ^ a b "Benni McCarthy's father dies". 13 November 2008. Archived from the original on 11 September 2012. Retrieved 18 April 2009.
  7. ^ Gaffney, Brian (5 September 2007). "How Crusaders groomed Benni for stardom". The People's Post. Archived from the original on 23 March 2008. Retrieved 18 April 2009.
  8. ^ "Contratação do jogador Benny McCarthy" (PDF). FC Porto (in Portuguese). 15 July 2003. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 December 2010. Retrieved 9 November 2010.
  9. ^ "Sky Sports | Football News | Premier League | Blackburn Rovers". 25 April 2010. Retrieved 29 April 2010.[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ "McCarthy a happy Hammer". 1 February 2010. Archived from the original on 4 February 2010. Retrieved 1 February 2010.
  11. ^ "Benni McCarthy misses West Ham squad cut | Football". Evening Standard. London. Archived from the original on 10 March 2011. Retrieved 2 February 2011.
  12. ^ Burt, Jason (28 January 2011). "West Ham's unwanted striker Benni McCarthy rejects Ł1m pay-off as club try to clear the decks". London: Telegraph. Retrieved 2 February 2011.
  13. ^ "Benni departs". 12 April 2010. Archived from the original on 30 April 2011. Retrieved 12 April 2011.
  14. ^ "Striker Benni McCarthy exits West Ham by mutual consent". 13 April 2011. Retrieved 13 April 2011.
  15. ^ "South Africa's Benni McCarthy joins Orlando Pirates". BBC Sport. 2 August 2011. Retrieved 2 August 2011.
  16. ^ "Pirates deny Swallows glory as champions retain the title". BBC Sport. 19 May 2012. Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  17. ^ "McCarthy seals title for Pirates". Soccernet.
  18. ^ "Benni McCarthy retires from football at the age of 35". BBC Sport. 6 June 2013. Retrieved 7 June 2013.
  19. ^ "2-goal Doddsy steals Benni's show". Whitehill Welfare official club site. 14 July 2014. Archived from the original on 15 July 2014. Retrieved 14 July 2014.
  20. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 15 July 2014. Retrieved 14 July 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  21. ^ "African star Benni McCarthy turns up at Whitehill Welfare". Midlothian Advertiser. 5 August 2013. Retrieved 13 July 2014.
  22. ^ "SA stars back gun free World Cup". Retrieved 9 May 2010.[permanent dead link]
  23. ^ "World Cup 2010: Benni McCarthy dropped by South Africa". BBC News. 1 June 2010. Retrieved 1 June 2010.
  24. ^ Benni Getting Coaching Experience At Hibs,, 10 April 2015
  25. ^ Benni McCarthy is Sint-Truiden's new assistant coach,, 8 September 2015
  26. ^ BENNI MCCARTHY STOPT ALS T2 Archived 14 May 2016 at the Wayback Machine, 20 April 2016
  27. ^ "Benni McCarthy unveiled as the new Cape Town City head coach".
  28. ^ "TimesLIVE".
  29. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 3 November 2014. Retrieved 3 November 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  30. ^ "B. McCarthy". Footballdatabase. Retrieved 29 January 2018.
  31. ^ Music video of "iShibobo" with TKZee feat. Benni McCarthy ]

External links[edit]