AmaZulu coach Benni McCarthy has attributed his instant success as a tactician partly to the lessons he learnt from his former mentor José Mourinho, during their stint at FC Porto in Portugal nearly two decades ago.
This is one of the inspirational stories the 43-year-old former Bafana Bafana striker shared with a group of youngsters who had voted him as their favourite sports personality who inspire them.
“When Porto signed José [in 2002], we came around the same time when I signed from Celta Vigo in Spain. He was young [39-years-old] and what stood out about him was the passion he had for his players,” McCarthy told a four-person audience in a virtual engagement themed Inspired By.
“Mourinho did not care much about winning even though it was a priority but the well-being of his players was so important – a happy camp. He wanted to know where you come from, the struggles you had in life, especially for someone like me coming from Africa.
“When you are a black person in Europe, it’s not always pleasant because you were always last in line because of the colour of your skin. I suffered some racism when I played in Spain [between 1999 and 2003].
“When I went to Porto they didn’t see colour or race. They treated me the same as everybody else. That’s what stood out when I met Mourinho. To him I was just Benni,” added McCarthy, who hails from Hanover Park on the Cape Flats in Cape Town.
Mourinho was among those who congratulated McCarthy shortly after he was voted DStv Premiership coach of the month for January and February. The Portuguese mentor posted on his social media platform: “My striker is now coach of the month!!!!”.
McCarthy responded: “Ola Mister, Como estás, I’ve learnt from the very best in the game.”
McCarthy’s first coaching stint when he cut his teeth with Cape Town City between 2017 and 2019.
He said emulating some of the attributes of his idol Mourinho was the reason AmaZulu were flying high in the Premiership despite a sluggish start.
He joined Usuthu last December and has guided the team to a nine-match unbeaten run since their last league defeat to Kaizer Chiefs in January.
The KwaZulu-Natal powerhouse will host a rejuvenated Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila at Jonsson Kings Park Stadium on Sunday.
“I always tell my players to aim higher. I try to instil this in my players, that’s why you see the immediate success I have at AmaZulu,” he said.
“Those are some of the life lessons I learnt in my career, both as a player and now as a coach – to aim higher.
“We are winning games because my players are thinking, if we finished second or third or win the league, they might get their break overseas. That’s the ambitions we have. I am benefitting from it and the results are going well. I can see the dedication because my players are aiming higher.”
- McCarthy also told his audience about his upbringing on the Cape Flats, when he would be ready to coach Bafana and why his Uefa Champions League title with FC Porto ranks as the second best thing to have happend in his life.
- Proudly brought to you by Tick-A-Target’ #INSPIREDBY in partnership with Gauteng Department of Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation
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