Benni McCarthy: bio, life, best and worst football moments

Benni McCarthy had a significant impact on the growth and development of South African football. He was the first South African player to win the UEFA Champions League with FC Porto in 2004, scoring the winning goal in the final against AS Monaco. This achievement paved the way for other South African players to play in top European clubs and gain international recognition.

McCarthy was also a key player for the South African national team, helping them win the Africa Cup of Nations in 1996. His success on the global stage inspired a new generation of young South African players to pursue professional careers in football.

Man United boss hails Benni McCarthy impact: 'He is doing a great job' |  Sport

Moreover, McCarthy has been actively involved in promoting and developing football in South Africa after retiring from playing. He has worked as a coach and pundit, and has also established his own football academy to identify and nurture young talent in the country.

What were some of the most memorable moments of Benni McCarthy’s playing career in South Africa?

Benni McCarthy had a remarkable playing career in South Africa, which included several memorable moments. One of his most standout moments was when he scored four goals in a single game for Bafana Bafana against Namibia in the COSAFA Cup in 1998. This performance helped to cement his place in the national team and caught the attention of European clubs.

Another memorable moment for McCarthy was winning the 1996 African Cup of Nations with South Africa. He played a pivotal role in the tournament, scoring four goals, including a crucial goal in the final against Tunisia. This victory was a historic moment for South African football, as it was their first major international trophy.

McCarthy also had a successful club career in South Africa, playing for teams such as Seven Stars and Ajax Cape Town before moving to Europe. He finished as the top scorer in the South African Premier Soccer League in the 1997/98 season with 18 goals.

How has Benni McCarthy transitioned into coaching, and what impact has he had on South African football as a coach?

Benni McCarthy has had an impressive transition from being a prolific striker to a successful coach in South African football. He retired from playing football in 2013 and started his coaching career soon after.

McCarthy’s first coaching job was at Cape Town City FC, where he took charge of the team in June 2017. In his first season as head coach, he led the team to their first-ever trophy, winning the Telkom Knockout Cup. McCarthy’s success continued in the following season, finishing third in the league and reaching the final of the MTN 8 Cup.

Under McCarthy’s leadership, Cape Town City FC gained a reputation for playing attacking and attractive football. He also showed a willingness to give young players a chance, which has helped to develop some of South Africa’s most promising talents.

McCarthy’s impact on South African football as a coach has been significant. He has shown that he can achieve success with limited resources and has provided a platform for young players to showcase their talent. He is also seen as a role model for aspiring coaches, particularly for black coaches who are still underrepresented in South African football.

Benni McCarthy - Player profile | Transfermarkt

Benni started his relationship with us back in 1995 when, as a 17-year-old, he was scouted and developed at the Seven Stars academy. In 1997 Benni was the top-scorer and player of the tournament at the U-20 African Youth Championships and later in that year he went on to sign for Dutch giants Ajax Amsterdam for what remains the highest ever transfer fee for a South African player to a European club. He made his senior international debut for South Africa later that year, against The Netherlands, and he remains the only South African player to have been capped at three different age groups within 12 months (u-20, u-23 and senior national team levels).

He was top-scorer and player of the tournament at the 1998 African Nations Cup finals in Burkina Faso.

Dutch League and Cup winner’s medals soon followed before transferring in 1999 to Spanish La Liga club Celta Vigo for $8 million. Regular Uefa Cup football saw Benni become Celta’s highest ever goal scorer in Uefa Cup competitions and with a Spanish Cup runner-up medal secured, he transferred to FC Porto in 2003.

Under the guidance of Jose Mourinho, Benni captured Portuguese League and Cup titles and in 2004 he won the Portuguese Golden Boot award as the league’s top-scorer.

The pinnacle of Benni’s club achievements came when he became the first South African player to take part in, and win, the Uefa Champions League in 2004, with Porto beating AS Monaco in the final.

In 2007 Benni transferred to English Premier League club Blackburn Rovers and in his first season, ended up runner-up to Didier Drogba as the top-scorer in the English Premier League.

In his first 3 seasons in England, Benni scored over 50 goals for Blackburn and in January 2010 transferred to the London-based Premier League club West Ham United.

In August 2011 he came back to South Africa, signing for Orlando Pirates.

At international level, he has represented South Africa at the 1998 and 2002 World Cup finals, and the 1998, 2002 and 2006 Africa Cup of Nations.

He is South Africa’s all time top-scorer at senior national team level.

  • Personal sponsor: Nike·       Nationality:                  South Africa·       Age:                             35·       Place of birth:              Cape Town, South Africa·       Height:                         183cm·       Position:                      Striker·       National team:             79 A-caps/35 goals·       Former club(s):           Ajax Cape Town, AFC Ajax Amsterdam, Celta Vigo, FC Porto,                                    Blackburn Rovers FC, West Ham United FC
  • ·       Contract:                     30.06.2012
  • ·       Current club:               Orlando Pirates
  • ·       Shirt number:              17
  • ·       Weight:                        82kg
  • ·       Marital status:              Married (three children)
  • ·       Date of birth:               12.11.1977
  • ·       Language(s):               English, Spanish, Afrikaans, Dutch
  • ·       Name:                          Benni McCarthy

Statistics current season:

  • Games played in: 8
  • National Team: 1
  • Assists: 1
  • Goals:


1995-1997  Seven Stars South Africa 49 39
1997  Ajax Cape Town South Africa 7 3
1997-1999  AFC Ajax Amsterdam Netherlands 35 20
1999-2001  Celta de Vigo Spain 52 8
2001-2002  FC Porto Portugal 11 12
2002-2003  Celta de Vigo Spain 14 2
2003-2006  FC Porto Portugal 75 34 3
2006-2010  Blackburn Rovers FC United Kingdom 138 51 11
2010-2011  West Ham United United Kingdom 14
2011-  Orlando Pirates South Africa 37 11 5
TOTAL 432 181 19


  • Dutch Eredivisie: Champion 1998
  • Dutch Cup: Champion 1998, 1999
  • Portuguese League: Champion 2004, 2006
  • Portuguese Super Cup: Champion 2004, 2005
  • UEFA Champions League: Champion 2004
  • Club World Cup: Champion 2004
  • FIFA World Cup: Squad member 1998, 2002


  • African Youth Championships U20: Best Player and top Scorer 1997
  • CAF African Cup of Nations: Best Player and Top Scorer 1998
  • Portuguese League: Top scorer 2004
  • Premier League: Runner-up Top scorer 2007

Add a Comment