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If get to be asked, who is the best South African footballer ever? I will definitely say Benni McCarthy. The big striker called it a day in his beautiful career in the world of football. Even though I can call this an early retirement, Benni McCarthy archived almost everything that a soccer player will dream of archiving. He spent fourteen years in Europe after leaving South Africa back in 1997 for Holland giants Ajax Amsterdam, the all time Bafana Bafana leading goal scorer is rated first by me in South Africa, I see his success in Europe being better than John Moshoeu who spent a decade in Turkey, Lucas Radebe who did well with English side Leeds United that he captained for more than five years and not leaving out current shining South African star Steven Pienaar who wear the colours of the Liverpool rivals Everton.
I believe that the 36 year-old had at least two more years to play in his career after what he did in his first season with Orlando Pirates. His passes and sublime goals he scored in his stint in Europe including a rocked he sent in the top corner when he was with Blackburn Rovers to knock Arsenal out of the FA Cup in 2007 are just great to watch. The reason why I say Benni retired early is because he proved to me that age is just a number. After West Ham United announced that his services are no longer required in 2011, the South African national team leading goal-scorer came back to South Africa and signed with Orlando Pirates and helped the team to their second title in the row, and he was the leading club top scorer. I was really shocked to hear his retirement, if it wasn’t the case of him not being in the same page with Orlando Pirates coach Roger De Sa, I was going to be happy to see Benni being offered one year contract extension by Orlando Pirates to try and make his dream of being the only player to win the Uefa Champions League and CAF Champions league come true.
Few days after he landed from Britain, he trained with Ajax Cape Town before the Buccaneers put big money for him in the table. It wasn’t going to be bad for the former Portuguese Super League Champion to join his home town team Ajax Cape Town and help them to be a full force they were in 2010/2011 when they finished the season as runner-ups. They were also speculations that Kaizer Chiefs are interested I him, it is always interesting when a player leaves a club for rivals. Maybe his limited game time was the reason why he hanged up his boots, Roger De Sa and Erick Ticker who was also at Wits when Benni McCarthy clashed with both of them after Pirates beat Wits 3-1 in Telkom Knock-Out final in 2011. It is believed that Benni went to De Sa and Tickler and told them that ‘even if they gather what they achieved in their playing days, they will never out class what he has achieved’. Collins Mbesuma and Takesure Chinyama who both were preferred up front by Roger De Sa could not out score ten goals that were scored by McCarthy in 2011/2012 season. When he said it him-self that he came back home to make history he really meant it, Benni is the only South African player to win the European League and South African League title.
He collected his third league medal with Orlando Pirates after collecting two in Portugal with FC Porto and Holland with giants Ajax Amsterdam. The right footed striker who were managed by ‘the Chelsea special one Jose Mourinho’ has also played in Spain with Celta Vigo where he scored incredible goals similar to the over-head kick he scored in the last minutes against Maritzburg United in February 2012 after the crowed chant his name to come in as the Substitute and the goal was voted as the goal of the season in the end of the campaign. I wish Benni McCarthy all the best in whatever he will decide to do, we already seen him in SuperSport as soccer analyst, I hope to see him being involved in our football even though I still believe that playing football was still the best for him instead of discussing it.