Regarded as one of the best African players at the time, McCarthy never established himself as a regular choice during drafts
Journey from home to Europe
While playing for Seven Stars, the 18-year old McCarthy scored 37 goals in 29 games in the 199596 season, followed by another 24 goals in 20 matches, earning him a transfer to Cape Town Spurs. For two years he represented a vital player for the team; a merge eventually to form Ajax Amsterdam farm team Ajax Cape Town was created.
Due to impressive sportsmanship in 1997 at the African Nations Cup and at the FIFA World Youth Championships, Benni joined the Dutch side. after a successive 1998 1999 season, he was traded to Spain to play for Celta Vigo for a sum reported to be over 6m. It was reported to be the most expensive transfer for a South African player, at the time.
In Spain, playing for Celta Vigo
Although regarded as one of the best African players at the time, McCarthy had difficulty establishing himself as a regular choice for Celta Vigo's manager, Víctor Fernández. For 2001-02 season FC Porto, a struggling club, accepted to take him on as a player after two poor seasons at the Galician club. There he rediscovered that energy and passion that had taken him to Europe in the first place.
After representing Bafana Bafana in the 2002 African Nations Cup, McCarthy returned to Porto where he became the main force behind the team's recovery. He helped them to third place in the league and automatic qualification for the UEFA Cup by scoring an impressive 12 goals in only 10 matches.
As is the case more often than not, Porto's finances did not allow them to keep the player, despite the desire of both sides to continue.
So, in 200203 McCarthy returned to Celta Vigo , as a 'bench warmer' he watched on while Porto captured the League Cup in Portugal and the UEFA Cup. It wasn't until former team-mate Hélder Postiga went on to play for the Tottenham Hotspur in the 2003-04 season that Porto finally acquired the funds to buy McCarthy for a sum of 3.5 M.
Portuguese and FC Porto
McCarthy regained his morale, and became instrumental in Porto's success in the 2004 UEFA Champions Leagues when he scored 2 goals against Manchester United, to go on to the second round
That same year, he grabbed the Golden Boot award, for scoring with 20 goals in 23 games.
Rumours started raging about which Premiership club McCarthy would move to, with West Ham United and Blackburn Rovers being mooted as possible destinations. Blackburn Rovers were in talks with Porto but could not agree a fee. However, he stayed with the club and was rewarded with winning another Portuguese national championship with FC Porto in the 2005-06 season.
Finally on July 29th 2006 Benny McCarthy went on to sign a contract with Blackburn Rovers for a reported £2.5m fee