Pirates striker Benni McCarthy retires

The 35-year-old former Bafana Bafana striker decided to call it a day after struggling with injuries and fitness during the last season
Orlando Pirates striker Benni McCarthy won the treble in South Africa last year, after returning from a long career in European football. Since South Africa's readmission to world sport, McCarthy was the country's most successful soccer player.

He started out at Seven Stars in Cape Town, before making a name for himself at Ajax Amsterdam. McCarthy made an immediate impact for Bafana, inspiring them to the 1998 Africa Cup of Nations final.

His greatest achievement was winning the 2004 Uefa Champions League title with Jose Mourinho's FC Porto. He's also featured for Blackburn Rovers in the English Premier League during his latter years.

For South Africa the Cape Town footballer represented Bafana in the Fifa World Cup in 1998 and 2002, arguably the countries strongest generation of players to date.

McCarthy announced his retirement with his agency:

“I retire having represented my country at senior level 80 times and scored a record 31 goals. Two Soccer World Cup finals, in France and Korea/Japan, an Olympic Games and an Under-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.”