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Benni-Pienaar-Radebe debate splits South Africa

3:22 AM EST 1/24/23
Pienaar Radebe McCarthy
South African supporters found themselves up in arms over the weekend, with three legends in the spotlight

South Africa’s greatest export?

South African fans found themselves divided this weekend, as the subject of the country’s greatest football export was discussed in depth on social media.

A picture of Steven Pienaar and Benni McCarthy sparked the debate, but the conversation extended way beyond the two Bafana Bafana greats as fans had their say.

  • Benni McCarthy Porto 2004

    Benni any day

    For Fanelesibonge Mabaso, there’s no contest.

    “Pienaar was consistently average,” he wrote. “Benni did incredible things for a time.

    “I’d go with Benni any day.”

    Is it really fair to say that Pienaar was ‘consistently average’?

  • Steve Pienaar of South Africa, France's Florent Malouda

    Steven good, Benni better

    @Adv_Meli delivered their ranking of the top three, and it’s good news for McCarthy.

    “Steven was good,” they wrote, “but Benni was by far greater followed by Lucas Radebe.”

  • Lucas Radebe Leeds United

    Can’t forget Radebe

    “I acknowledge that Benni and his [Champions League] medal, but Radebe has captained a Premier League team in Leeds United and Bafana,” wrote @uDoaa_. “He has a beer in his name at Leeds, he’s a living legend there.

    “Please man, please.”

    Certainly, there was a lot of love for Lucas, whose exploits at Elland Road have not been forgotten by Bafana fans back home.

  • No one touches Benni

    Rholane Tarantino moved quickly to silence the Radebe talk.

    “Ok, please, I know Radebe is a legend,” they wrote, “but no one touches Benni, please.”

    @Ziloow_ agreed.

    “We get it, Radebe is a legend at Leeds,” they wrote. “Please? Hello? Benni is a Champions League WINNER.”

    Is McCarthy’s Champions League winner’s medal enough to get your vote?

  • Lucas Radebe heads the ball against Denmark - 1998 Fifa World Cup

    What did Radebe do?

    @Boatseazn had some stinging words for ex-centre-back Radebe, questioning how the Leeds hero can ever be compared to Europe-conquering Benni.

    “Joke,” he wrote. “Benni won the Champions League with FC Porto and was top scorer for Jose Mourinho, as a starting striker.

    “What did Radebe do besides getting relegated?”

    A little bit harsh?! Radebe's Leeds did make the Champions League semi-finals after all.

  • Sibusiso Zuma of South Africa.jpg

    What about Zuma?

    There was also some love for the great Sibusiso Zuma amidst the debate.

    “Somebody tweeted that Benni McCarthy and Steven Pienaar are the best to fly Mzansi’s flag in Europe,” wrote Loyiso Twala. “To that I say, beyond match stats, look at the impact Sibusiso Zuma and Lucas Radebe have made.”

    Is Zuma a genuine contender in the debate about South Africa’s greatest export.

  • Sibusiso Zuma - Arminia Bielefeld

    Champions League not enough

    User @JnrNtahanga believes that silverware alone isn’t enough to crown Benni as South Africa’s greatest export.

    “Sure, Benni has a CL, but he’s no club legend,” they wrote. “Zuma has a statue in Copenhagen and Radebe has a mural in Leeds.“Benni’s great, but he’s never been immortalised like those two.

    ”Maybe if McCarthy’s work with Marcus Rashford inspires Manchester United to the title, then that idolisation situation might change!?

  • Benni Mccarthy Manchester United 2022.

    Split opinion

    While user @Ndonga__ does give some credit to Zuma and Pienaar, for him, it’s a toss up between Radebe and Benni.

    “In terms of culture?” they began. “Radebe.

    “In terms of accolades? Definitely Benni.

    “Zuma and Pienaar had good careers, but definitely not them.”

  • Quinton Fortune, Manchester United

    What about Mokoena, Fortune and Fish?

    Paul Makhene was keen to throw some extra names into the mix.

    “I think you made an error by leaving Radebe out,” he wrote to the original poster. “He’s probably our number one export followed by Benni.

    “Also worth mentioning Mark Fish, Quinton Fortune and Aaron Mokoena.”

    Would any of these three names be your top Bafana export of all time?