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From South Africa to Europe! Manchester United’s Benni McCarthy Has an Inspiring Journey in Football



Benni McCarthy

Since the World Cup, Manchester United’s forward and England international football player, Marcus Rashford has been described to be in the “form of his life” as the youngster keeps scoring goals in each match, making him the highest goal scorer in Europe since the World Cup. Last season, Rashford was struggling with his form; he struggled to score up to ten goals throughout the campaign. His renewed form amazed a lot of people and it came as a surprise how his form, the best he’s had in his career, has changed under Manchester United’s new manager, Erik ten Hag. But Rashford’s incredible form has been credited to one man: Benni McCarthy.

Benni McCarthy is an ex-South African football player and coach, who was signed by Erik ten Hag as a first-team coach at Manchester United in July, last year. Benni McCarthy is an example of African excellence in football in Europe. Since joining the club, everything about him has been positive and has added a great deal of improvement to the club. Apart from getting Rashford on the right track, Benni is also part of the managerial suite to end Manchester United’s six-year draught of being trophy-less.

Alex Turk, a reporter for Express Sports, said of Benni McCarthy, “Absolutely everything that comes out about him is so overwhelmingly positive. You could make a very strong argument that he is Erik ten Hag’s best signing so far.”

Over the years, African footballers have been contributing to the success of football in Europe. There was the era when the likes of Yaya Touré, Didier Drogba, Samuel Eto’o, JayJay Okocha, Kanu Nwankwo, Mikel Obi and others dominated European football. And now, in the modern era, Victor Osimhen, Sadio Mane, Mohammed Salah, Asisat Oshoala and others are the new vectors spotlighting the talents of Africans in football. But while most African footballers retire from their professional run in football and venture, most likely, into something unrelated to football, there’s a new dimension being charted for the generations to come. Previously in Europe, there was no record of any African footballer or coach managing European clubs. Even in Africa, there’s little to no belief in what African coaches can do to manage the national teams and spur them into international victories.

However, Benni McCarthy’s success at Manchester United sends a message that homegrown coaches are capable of leading African national teams to success. When Senegal won the last African Cup of Nations, led by Aliou Cissé, a discussion sprung up across socials on why African national teams should believe in their coaches, despite setbacks. Aliou has been with Senegal national team since 2012 as a caretaker but won the cup in 2021.

In Europe, the likes of Yaya Touré and Kolo Touré are now managing teams like Tottenham Hotspur and Wigan Athletic as head coaches, respectively. The success of Benni McCarthy at Manchester United would give African footballers and coaches the privilege to manage European clubs or manage their national teams after retiring from their careers as football players. McCarthy has changed the narrative that African coaches and footballers can be trusted if given the opportunity to perform.

Benni had a successful run as a football player; he is the only South African with a Champions League medal. He is South Africa’s record goal scorer with 31 international goals to his name, and he started his career in South Africa before transitioning to Europe sometime between 2001 and 2002. His managerial prowess amazed the current Manchester United manager, Erik ten Hag, which spurred him to bring Benni in as part of his coaching team. Who knows, Benni McCarthy’s current success at Manchester United and more to come could inspire African football teams, at the club and national levels, to appoint more African coaches.



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Star Features