JOHANNESBURG – Benni McCarthy, South Africa’s all-time leading scorer and a one-time UEFA Champions League winner, announced his retirement Thursday.
The 35-year-old has been playing for Orlando Pirates since 2011, but several lengthy injury lay-offs restricted his appearances.
His career was a classic rags-to-riches tale as he moved from the bumpy, Cape Town township dirt pitches to European glory under leading coach Jose Mourinho.
McCarthy was a key figure in the Porto side that defeated Monaco 3-0 in a one-sided 2004 Champions League final.
He struck both goals in a 2-1 quarter-final win over Manchester United on a special night for South Africa when compatriot Quinton Fortune the other scorer.
The highlight of his record-breaking 31-goal, 80-cap international career was being joint leading scorer as South Africa reached the 1998 Africa Cup of Nations decider.
His final Bafana Bafana (The Boys) appearance came last September in Brazil, where he came on a substitute and lasted just 10 minutes before being injured.
McCarthy had mixed luck in England, scoring consistently in one of his four seasons at Blackburn, but fined regularly at West Ham for being overweight.
“Football has been good to me — provided special moments and enabled me to improve the lives of my family members,” he said in a statement.
“I played in the Champions League and the Club World Cup, which are the highest levels that can be achieved in club football.”
“It has been a 17-year professional career that surpassed even my expectations and I am most grateful for that.”