Benni McCarthy: Coaches overlooked me for being skinny and young


The tactician has vowed to trust young players at Usuthu but wants them to reciprocate the trust by working hard

South Africa’s all-time top scorer Benni McCarthy has claimed his former coaches ruled him out for being too skinny and small before he announced himself to the world.

The AmaZulu head coach made his Bafana Bafana debut at 19 years of age when he played in the Netherlands 24 years ago. He revealed that coaches were unwilling to trust him because of his physical attributes.

However, the Champions League winner with Porto in 2004, went on to make history in the 1998 Africa Cup of Nations when he emerged as the joint top scorer with seven goals alongside Egypt’s Hossam Hassan. He was also named the Player of the Tournament, although South Africa failed to defend the title.

Ruled out

“I’m the living example of somebody who gives young players an opportunity,” McCarthy said as quoted by The Times.

“I was dying (when he was young) for an opportunity and too many coaches looked past the fact. They were saying he was too young, too skinny, he’s too small, he’s that and that. But people didn’t know my circumstances, you know.


“They didn’t know what I’m going through in my life. Just because I’m 16 or 17 it doesn’t give anybody a right to judge me, because they don’t know what I’m going through in my life.

“So, if you give me an opportunity, maybe I’m better than someone who is 30, because of my circumstances. And there was one person who took that gamble and he gave me an opportunity and look at what happened.

“But for me, I knew that if I’m given an opportunity I knew what my capabilities were and what I could do. I was given that opportunity because one person believed in me.”

McCarthy added the reason he was finally given an opportunity inspires him to trust young players under his administration at Usuthu. However, he maintains that the players trusted with the opportunities have to show why they deserve them.

“Now I’m having the opportunity today to have so many players’ fate and future in my hands. Why not give them the opportunity. Now if I see a player, irrespective of the age, if I see what he does in training then I give him the opportunity,” the former Orlando Pirates striker continued.

“I throw him in. At the end of the day, it’s a yes or a no. It’s simple. In life, you are going to find out. If you give young players an opportunity then it comes with responsibility, and if he fails it may be because he wasn’t ready, but I could not tell because I don’t live inside that young player’s body.

“He’s the one who determines how badly he wants it, so I give opportunities to players and they show me if they deserve it. I give them because that’s how we learn.

“If it’s a success then good, not just because it’s me who benefits. The player benefits because he will be able to look after his family and create a career.

“It’s not because you’re young and now I must just give you the opportunity. You have to show me that you want it as much as the senior players. You’ve got to enjoy what you do, that’s why I give young players a chance. But they also have to stand up and be counted.”

At Bafana Bafana, head coach Hugo Broos hinted he would also build a future team with young players, and the likes of Ethan Brooks have already started to impress.

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