In a now 22-year career in professional football just about everything Benedict Saul McCarthy has touched has turned to gold.
Joining Ajax Amsterdam that year he scored goals as they won the Eredivisie.
He seemed to just keep breezing through football‚ becoming the only South African to win the Uefa Champions League with Jose Mourinho’s FC Porto in 2004.
So quick starts‚ and things seemingly coming easily at the feet of an unnatural talent bred in gangland football in Hanover Park have been a feature of McCarthy’s career.
Chasing a first gold medal as his side‚ Cape Town City‚ meet SuperSport United at Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday night (kickoff: 7pm)‚ just three months into his first assignment as a head coach reminds one that Benni has always been a quick starter.
Making his debut at 17 he took to South African domestic football like a duck to a fish pond‚ banging in goals for Seven Stars and Ajax Cape Town.
He started the same way for Bafana Bafana‚ with those four goals blasted past Namibia as joint-top scorer with Egypt legend Hossam Hassan at the 1998 Africa Cup of Nations.
If he has seemed to ride his luck initially as City have ploughed to seven wins in nine matches in 2017-18‚ and a cup final‚ some of those victories plucked opportunistically even when McCarthy’s team have been on the back foot‚ then that too has been a feature of his career.
There were goals by the striker – especially late in his career‚ when he put on an immoderate layer of weight for a pro footballer – where McCarthy could lag 30 metres behind the pace‚ a ball would be poorly cleared and fall at his feet‚ and he would score.
Like the great strikers‚ he was the ultimate opportunist.
So a victory this afternoon for City against SuperSport would only be in keeping with the pattern of McCarthy’s career‚ transferred from playing to coaching.
And the lad from Hanover Park – now an outspoken‚ and well-spoken‚ coach‚ at times still fiery and controversial as he had been as a player – would be on a path to adding to the legend he carved out for himself on the field‚ now on the touchline.