13 April ~ One of the main players in helping Porto lift the Champions League in 2004 has just agreed a £1.5 million deal with West Ham to terminate his contract. He may have resembled a beached whale lately, but Benni McCarthy was once one of the most potent attackers in Europe. After stints at Ajax and Celta Vigo he went on to show his prime form under the guidance of José Mourinho, notably in getting a double against Manchester United in the second round of the Champions League in 2004.
The spiral of descent didn't begin directly after McCarthy left Porto for Blackburn as he scored 24 times in his first season in the Premier League. But the goals dried up and the player once rated as South Africa's best lost his place in the national squad and with it a chance to be a national hero in 2010. "He is in a lower physical state than the rest of the team," said the national squad's fitness coach when McCarthy was dropped.
West Ham offered a stage to get back to his best but instead he deteriorated further on a healthy wage packet. Not there was anything healthy about his physique, as he resembled a fat Eddie Murphy in his later months. As a free agent McCarthy will probably get picked up by a new employer, provided they haven't seen any recent match videos, while Hammers fans will be scratching their heads at one of the pound for pound biggest flops in the club's history. James Ilsley