Benni McCarthy, the most successful South African footballer of the modern era, has retired.
The 35-year-old from Hanover Park enjoyed a dream career that took him from the dusty, dangerous streets of the Cape Flats to the pristine cathedrals of world football.
Beginning his professional career at now defunct Seven Stars in Cape Town, Benni went on to play in Holland, Spain, Portugal and England, and returned to South Africa for a swansong with Orlando Pirates.
He announced himself on the international scene at the 1998 African Cup of Nations, where he was the top goalscorer and player of the tournament with seven goals.
With 31 international goals to his name, Benni is South Africa’s all-time top scorer, and a true legend of the local game.
He is also the only South African footballer to win Europe's top club competition, the Uefa Champions League, with Porto in 2004.
Announcing his decision to hang his boots up via his agency, McCarthy said:
“I have been so blessed to have enjoyed a remarkable career that took me from the township fields of Nyanga Stadium, to winner’s medals in the Uefa Champions League and World Club Cup - the highest levels that a player can achieve in club football.
“I retire having represented my country at senior level 80 times and scored a record 31 goals. Two World Cup Finals, in France and Korea/Japan, an Olympic Games and a u-20 World Cup Finals will be memories that live in my heart forever.
“And to have come home to South Africa for a final chapter, and to have won the treble with Orlando Pirates, was the type of finale that only dreams are made of.
“It has been a 17-year professional career that surpassed even my own expectations and I’ve been privileged to have played under many great Coaches, including the very best, Jose Mourinho.
“Football has been good to me – it has provided special moments and in the process, has enabled me to have been in a position to have improved the lives of my family members. For that, I am most grateful.
“I’d like to thank so many people for making so many aspects of this journey possible. My family has always been a tremendous support, especially my mom, Dora, and my late father, Dudley. I trust that I have made them proud in some small way.
“Sponsors, like Nike, who have been there for me for the past 15 years and I appreciate that. And finally, my mentor and business manager, Rob Moore, who has walked along this road with me since I joined him in 1995 as a 17-year-old.
“Football is my life. I have played the game and I love the game…….it’s in my blood. For the next chapter, I’d like to concentrate on getting my Coaching Badges and at the same time, be part of a club where I can get practical experience. I’d also like to do some television work because I enjoy that aspect of the game as well.”