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Benni McCarthy
McCarthy warming up for West Ham United in 2010
Personal information
Full name Benedict Saul McCarthy
Date of birth (1977-11-12) 12 November 1977 (age 46)
Place of birth Cape Town, South Africa
Height 1.83 m
Playing position Forward
Club information
Current club Manchester United (first-team coach)
Youth career
Young Pirates
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1995–1997 Seven Stars 49 (39)
1996–1997 → Cape Town Spurs (loan) 7 (3)
1997–1999 Ajax 36 (20)
1999–2002 Celta Vigo 66 (10)
2002–2006 Porto 85 (46)
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 U23 13
1997–2012 South Africa 79 (31)
Teams managed
2015–2016 Sint-Truiden (assistant)
2017–2019 Cape Town City
2020–2022 Amazulu
2022– Manchester United (first team coach)
Men's football
Representing  South Africa
Africa Cup of Nations
Runner-up 1998 Burkina Faso
  • Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).

Benedict Saul "Benni" McCarthy (born 12 November 1977) is a South African coach and former footballer who is a first-team coach at Manchester United. He previously worked as head coach of South African Premier Division team AmaZulu.

A former forward, McCarthy is the South Africa national team's all-time top scorer with 31 goals. He is also the only South African to have won the UEFA Champions League, doing so with Porto in 2003–04.

Early life

McCarthy was born in Cape Town and grew up in Hanover Park in the Cape Flats, 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. 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.

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.

Club career

Seven Stars

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

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, (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

On 25 July 2006, McCarthy flew out to England to undergo a medical and probable contract signing to join Blackburn Rovers. Three days later, he signed a four-year contract with Blackburn for a £2.5 million transfer fee. The move meant that Rovers regularly fielded a side that contained two South African Internationals, the other being Aaron Mokoena who joined the club the year previous.

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

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. 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. In April 2011, McCarthy left West Ham by mutual agreement after the parties agreed to terminate his contract. He made only two Premier League starts and fourteen appearances in all competitions scoring no goals.

Orlando Pirates

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." 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. 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.

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.

Whitehill Welfare

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. McCarthy has a connection with the club through one of the Whitehill players, John Hall.

International career

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." 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.

Managerial and coaching career


Living in Edinburgh since 2013, McCarthy confirmed in April 2015, that he had joined the coaching staff of Alan Stubbs at Scottish club Hibernian. 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. 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.

Cape Town City

On 13 June 2017, McCarthy was unveiled as the new Cape Town City head coach, replacing Eric Tinkler, who moved to manage SuperSport United. McCarthy would complete his UEFA Pro License while coaching City, and would win his first silverware as a coach in 2018 when he guided City to the MTN 8 cup. On 4 November 2019, McCarthy was dismissed as head coach of Cape Town City after just two wins in 18 games .


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. He took the club to a second-place finish in the DStv Premiership, a record high for AmaZulu in the modern era of the game in South Africa. As a result, AmaZulu qualified for the preliminary rounds of the 2021–22 CAF Champions League. McCarthy led AmaZulu to the group stages of the 2021–22 CAF Champions League in their debut season before exiting the competition. McCarthy and AmaZulu parted company on 25 March 2022.

Manchester United

On 30 July 2022, McCarthy was appointed as a first-team coach at Manchester United.

Personal life

In 2004, McCarthy married Maria Santos from Spain. They have three daughters together: Minna, Mya and Allegra. In 2007, they separated. In May 2014, McCarthy married Scottish model Stacey Munro. Together, they have one daughter, Lima Rose and one son, Lio Romero, born in 2019.

Career statistics


Appearances and goals by club, season and competition
Club Season League National cup Continental Other Total
Division Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Ajax 1997–98 Eredivisie 17 9 1 0 5 1 23 10
1998–99 Eredivisie 19 11 1 0 5 0 0 0 25 11
Total 36 20 2 0 10 1 0 0 48 21
Celta Vigo 1999–2000 La Liga 31 8 4 2 10 6 45 16
2000–01 La Liga 19 0 2 0 6 0 27 0
2001–02 La Liga 2 0 0 0 3 1 5 1
2002–03 La Liga 14 2 0 0 5 3 19 5
Total 66 10 6 2 24 10 96 22
Porto (loan) 2001–02 Primeira Liga 11 12 1 1 12 13
Porto 2003–04 Primeira Liga 29 20 5 1 11 4 2 0 47 25
2004–05 Primeira Liga 23 11 1 0 8 3 3 0 35 14
2005–06 Primeira Liga 23 3 4 3 4 1 31 7
Total 86 46 11 5 23 8 5 0 124 58
Blackburn Rovers 2006–07 Premier League 36 18 5 3 8 3 1 0 50 24
2007–08 Premier League 31 8 1 0 4 2 2 1 38 11
2008–09 Premier League 28 10 5 3 0 0 33 13
2009–10 Premier League 14 1 0 0 5 3 19 4
Total 109 37 11 6 12 5 8 4 140 52
West Ham United 2009–10 Premier League 5 0 0 0 0 0 5 0
2010–11 Premier League 6 0 0 0 3 0 9 0
Total 11 0 0 0 3 0 14 0
Career total 308 113 30 13 69 24 16 4 422 153


Scores and results list South Africa's goal tally first, score column indicates score after each McCarthy goal.
List of international goals scored by Benni McCarthy
No. Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1 16 February 1998 Stade Municipal, Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso  Namibia 1–0 4–0 1998 African Cup of Nations
2 2–0
3 3–0
4 4–0
5 22 February 1998 Stade Municipal, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso  Morocco 1–0 2–1 1998 African Cup of Nations
6 25 February 1998 Stade du 4 Août, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso  Congo DR 1–1 2–1 1998 African Cup of Nations
7 2–1
8 6 June 1998 Sportanlage Baiersbronn, Baiersbronn, Germany  Iceland 1–0 1–1 Friendly
9 18 June 1998 Stade de Toulouse, Toulouse, France  Denmark 1–1 1–1 1998 FIFA World Cup
10 16 December 1998 FNB Stadium, Johannesburg, South Africa  Egypt 1–1 2–1 Friendly
11 2–1
12 27 February 1999 Odi Stadium, Mabopane, South Africa  Gabon 4–1 4–1 2000 African Cup of Nations qualification
13 5 June 1999 Kings Park Stadium, Durban, South Africa  Mauritius 2–0 2–0 2000 African Cup of Nations qualification
14 7 June 2000 Cotton Bowl, Dallas, United States  Mexico 1–2 2–4 Friendly
15 11 June 2000 Giants Stadium, New York City, United States  Ireland 1–0 1–2 Friendly
16 24 March 2001 Telkom Park Stadium, Port Elizabeth, South Africa  Mauritius 1–0 3–0 2002 African Cup of Nations qualification
17 5 May 2001 FNB Stadium, Johannesburg, South Africa  Zimbabwe 2–0 2–1 2002 FIFA World Cup qualification
18 15 January 2002 Mmabatho Stadium, Mafikeng, South Africa  Angola 1–0 1–0 Friendly
19 23 May 2002 Hong Kong Stadium, Hong Kong  Turkey 1–0 2–0 Friendly
20 2–0
21 12 June 2002 Daejeon World Cup Stadium, Daejeon, South Korea  Spain 1–1 2–3 2002 FIFA World Cup
22 22 May 2003 Kings Park Stadium, Durban, South Africa  England 1–1 1–2 Friendly
23 15 November 2003 Cairo International Stadium, Cairo, Egypt  Egypt 1–0 1–2 Friendly
24 18 August 2004 Tunis, Tunisia  Tunisia 1–0 2–0 Friendly
25 10 October 2004 National Stadium, Kampala, Uganda  Uganda 1–0 1–0 2006 FIFA World Cup qualification
26 9 February 2005 Kings Park Stadium, Durban, South Africa  Australia 1–0 1–1 Friendly
27 4 June 2005 Estádio da Várzea, Praia, Cape Verde  Cape Verde 1–0 2–1 2006 FIFA World Cup qualification
28 7 September 2005 Weserstadion, Bremen, Germany  Germany 2–3 2–4 Friendly
29 14 January 2006 Cairo International Stadium, Cairo, Egypt  Egypt 2–1 2–1 Friendly
30 8 September 2007 Newlands Stadium, Cape Town, South Africa  Zambia 1–3 1–3 2008 Africa Cup of Nations qualification
31 26 March 2008 Lucas Masterpieces Moripe Stadium, Pretoria, South Africa  Paraguay 2–0 3–0 Friendly
32 15 October 2008 Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein, South Africa  Ghana 1–1 2–1 Friendly


As of 18 September 2021

Team From To Record
G W D L Win %
Cape Town City 13 June 2017 3 November 2019 &&&&&&&&&&&&&089.&&&&&089 &&&&&&&&&&&&&037.&&&&&037 &&&&&&&&&&&&&021.&&&&&021 &&&&&&&&&&&&&031.&&&&&031 &&&&&&&&&&&&&041.57000041.57
AmaZulu 14 December 2020 25 March 2022 &&&&&&&&&&&&&032.&&&&&032 &&&&&&&&&&&&&016.&&&&&016 &&&&&&&&&&&&&&08.&&&&&08 &&&&&&&&&&&&&&08.&&&&&08 &&&&&&&&&&&&&050.&&&&&050.00
Total &&&&&&&&&&&&0121.&&&&&0121 &&&&&&&&&&&&&053.&&&&&053 &&&&&&&&&&&&&029.&&&&&029 &&&&&&&&&&&&&039.&&&&&039 &&&&&&&&&&&&&043.80000043.80





  • UEFA Intertoto Cup: 2000


Orlando Pirates

  • Premier League: 2011–12
  • MTN 8: 2011
  • Telkom Knockout: 2011

South Africa


  • African Cup of Nations Best Player: 1998
  • African Cup of Nations Top Scorer: 1998
  • African Cup of Nations Team of the Tournament: 1998
  • African Goal of the Year: 2004
  • Ajax Talent of the Year (Marco van Basten Award): 1997–98
  • SJPF Player of the Month: January 2004, May 2004, October 2004
  • Primeira Liga Top Scorer: 2003–04
  • Taça de Portugal Top Scorer: 2005–06


Cape Town City

  • MTN 8: 2018

In popular culture

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.



  • 1998: "Shibobo" by TKZee featuring Benni McCarthy

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Benni McCarthy para niños

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