Benni McCarthy

Benni McCarthy

Football player infobox
playername = Benni McCarthy

fullname = Benedict Saul McCarthy
dateofbirth = birth date and age|1977|11|12
cityofbirth = Cape Town
countryofbirth = South Africa
height = height|ft=6|in=0
currentclub = Blackburn Rovers
clubnumber = 10
position = Striker
years = 1995–1997
clubs = Seven Stars
Ajax Cape Town
Celta Vigo
F.C. Porto (loan)
F.C. Porto
Blackburn Rovers
caps(goals) = 049 0(39)
007 00(3)
035 0(20)
066 0(10)
011 0(12)
075 0(34)
070 0(26)
nationalyears = 1997–
nationalteam = South Africa
nationalcaps(goals) = 072 0(30)
pcupdate = 17:37, 15 May 2008 (UTC)
ntupdate = 00:15, 6 September 2008 (UTC)

Benedict Saul "Benni" McCarthy (born November 12 1977 in Cape Town) is a South African professional footballer, currently playing for English side Blackburn Rovers.

Early career

Playing for Seven Stars, the 18-year old McCarthy scored 37 goals in 29 games in the 1995–96 season, followed by another 24 goals in 20 matches, which earned him a transfer to Cape Town Spurs which two years later merged with Seven Stars to form Ajax Amsterdam feeder team Ajax Cape Town.

In 1997, after an impressive showing at the African Youth Cup and FIFA World Youth Championship, he joined the Dutch side, where he scored 9 goals and was crowned champion in his first season. After a relatively successful 1998–99 season he was sold to Spanish side Celta Vigo for a sum reported to be over €6m, at the time the most expensive transfer for a South African player.

Celta Vigo

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

At Porto he played under the then newly-appointed coach José Mourinho for an underperforming team 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, his national side were knocked out in the semi-finals, McCarthy returned to Porto where he became the main force behind the team's recovery. He helped them to third place in the league and automatic qualification for the UEFA Cup by scoring an impressive 12 goals in only 11 matches, but Porto's finances did not allow them to keep the player, despite the desire of both sides to continue.

So, in 2002–03 Mccarthy returned to Celta Vigo where he spent a lot of time on the bench as squad player while Porto captured the League Cup in Portugal and the UEFA Cup. When former teammate Hélder Postiga was sold to English side Tottenham Hotspur in the 2003-04 season, Porto finally acquired the funds to buy McCarthy for a sum of €3.5 M.

FC Porto

On his return, McCarthy not only found club morale was at its highest for years, but that Porto now had a highly organized team with some of the best Portuguese players. He grabbed the Golden Boot award (with 20 goals in 23 games) on the final day with a terrific hat-trick, and was instrumental in Porto's superb run in the 2004 UEFA Champions League, which they won. Notably, he was responsible for scoring two goals against Manchester United to defeat them in the second round.

When José Mourinho left and was (shortly) replaced by Italian coach Luigi Del Neri, McCarthy considered leaving for the FA Premier League, but the two years left in his contract posed a problem. When the Italian coach was fired and replaced by his former Celta coach Fernandez (who he said he would rather quit playing than be coached by again) he tried to pressure Porto to sell him to Everton, who needed a replacement for Wayne Rooney.

Porto refused to sell and despite Fernandez praising McCarthy and describing him as a world class striker, rumours continued to rage about which Premiership club McCarthy would move to, with West Ham United and Blackburn Rovers being mooted as possible destinations. Blackburn Rovers were in talks with Porto but could not agree a fee. However, he stayed with the club and was rewarded with winning another Portuguese national championship with FC Porto in the 2005-06 season.

On 25th July, 2006, McCarthy flew out to England to undergo a medical and probable contract signing to join Blackburn Rovers [] and, three days later, signed a four year contract with Blackburn Rovers for a £2.5m fee.

Blackburn Rovers

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 the 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 Salzburg in the UEFA Cup, and scoring another in the return leg. He finished second top scorer in the Premiership in 2006–07 with 18 league goals (24 goals in total).

Club career statistics

:"(correct as of 25 February 2008)"

National team

McCarthy was the joint top scorer in the 1998 African Cup of Nations in Burkina Faso with 7 goals, including 4 in 13 minutes against Namibia.

The 1998 FIFA World Cup in France was the first time South Africa's national football team had reached the finals and McCarthy (then at Ajax) was one of their key players. After a 3-0 defeat against future World Champions France, South Africa played their second game against Denmark. Trailing since the 13th minute, McCarthy tied the game at 1-1 in the 52nd minute and giving South Africa a chance for qualification. However, the third game also ended a draw (against Saudi Arabia), which left the South Africans in third place and eliminated from the competition.

The Korea/Japan World Cup saw history repeating for the South Africans. After a 2-2 draw against Paraguay and a 1-0 victory over the Slovenians, McCarthy's 30th minute equalizer in the last game against Spain was just not enough. 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 clubs') and he actually retired from international games after the 2002 World Cup. However, he returned to the national team in 2004 and is South Africa's leading scorer of all time. In the 2006/07 Premier League season, he was second top-scorer, with 18 goals, just behind Didier Drogba.

McCarthy now holds the record of international goals for a South African. McCarthy scored in the second half of a 3-0 win against Paraguay in an international friendly. This strike eclipsed the previous record of 29 goals held by Shaun Bartlett.


* Netherlands Championship: 97/98 (Ajax)
* KNVB Cup: 97/98, 98/99 (Ajax)
* Portuguese Liga: 03/04, 05/06 (Porto)
* Portuguese Cup: 05/06 (Porto)
* Portuguese Supercup: 03/04, 04/05 (Porto)
* UEFA Champions League: 03/04 (Porto)
* FIFA Intercontinental Cup: 2004 (Porto)


His older brother is Jerome McCarthy, a former professional footballer who played for Kaizer Chiefs and Manning Rangers among others.

He is the only South African National Footballer to have won the UEFA Champions League, winning with FC Porto in 2004.


External links

*soccerbase|id=14339|name=Benni McCarthy

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