Benni McCarthy: A man among the boys
South Africans will hope Benni McCarthy has a few more goals in him this summer
Born: Nov. 12, 1977, in Cape Town, South Africa
Clubs played for: McCarthy became the bane of goalkeepers during his time with Seven Stars, a now-defunct team in Cape Town. His early exploits led to a lucrative move to Ajax in 1997 where he scored 20 goals in 35 appearances over two seasons, and won two Dutch Cups and an Eredivisie title. Benni's production ebbed during four seasons with Celta Vigo, but he found a rich vein of goal-scoring form again after a $5-million move to Porto in 2003. In four seasons, including a loan spell in 2001-2002, McCarthy scored 53 goals in 111 games with Os Dragões (The Dragons); he won two Portuguese Ligas, one Portuguese Cup and one Champions League between 2003 and 2006. Blackburn Rovers paid $4 million for the South African international in 2006. After scoring 52 goals in 140 games, McCarthy moved to West Ham United during the 2010 January transfer window.
International career: McCarthy is South Africa's all-time leading scorer with 35 goals in 78 appearances. Although age has slowed him down, the 32-year-old still has the striker's touch that the Bafana Bafana (The Boys) will need to advance beyond the group stage.
Why is he so special? McCarthy is a tenacious attacker who never desists in pursuit of a goal. If he doesn't take the ball off a defender, he pressurizes one or several opponents into making mistakes that give his teammates opportunities.
His most famous moment: McCarthy scored two goals against Manchester United in the first leg of the round of 16 during the 2003-2004 Champions League. Porto won the game 2-1 and would go on to win the tie 3-2 on aggregate.
He said it: "When it comes to high-profile matches, you need players with a lot of experience, who've been there and played at that level, to try and take you through, calm things down and lead. If I'm selected, then I'm going to be looking at myself to try to provide that experience."
What they're saying about him: "He is a player who can score goals and he will be a very good help for us." — Gianfranco Zola, former West Ham United manager
Here's an interesting fact: In January, Blackburn Rovers manager Sam Allardyce said McCarthy is a talented but lazy player: "If you can get players to do the workload, he'll score you goals." A few days later, former West Ham United manager Gianfranco Zola extolled McCarthy's many "talents" before the Hammers signed the South African international.