As far as careers go, it’s fair to say Benni McCarthy and Ricardo Carvalho had quite the contrasting experiences in the beautiful game.
Maybe that’s a little harsh to the former but when you consider Carvalho donned the shirts of Chelsea and Real Madrid, it becomes somewhat more understandable. Throw in a European Championship victory with Portugal, too.
That being said, the duo were teammates together at Porto between 2002 and 2004. Their coming together in Portugal was certainly successful and under the wing of Jose Mourinho no less.
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The crowning moment undoubtedly proved the treble winning year of 2004 when Porto defied all odds to romp home to Champions League victory. Both men were involved in the final – an unforgettable 3-0 humbling of AS Monaco.
The pair then embarked on careers in the Premier League with Carvalho following Mourinho to Chelsea and McCarthy linking up with Blackburn Rovers.
The recollections of McCarthy himself though, would suggest he was more worthy of a move to Stamford Bridge and his ex-team mate of one to Ewood Park. Yes you did read that right.
In fact, the South African’s memories of training with Carvalho at Porto are not what you’d expect. It exposes one of the finest centre-backs as a ditsy man who was no stranger to an earful at the training ground.
McCarthy does of course admit his admiration for the player too but not after poking in fun in his own delightful way.
Appearing on the Big Interview with Graham Hunter he explained: “He was a soft giant, but I think his career was saved because he had a manager like Jose Mourinho because he understood and got to know his players.
“That’s why wherever Jose went he tried to get Carvalho, because he knows he’s going to drown if he plays for another manager. The worst player that you could ever have in your team from Monday to Friday in training. The WORST trainer EVER!
“He’s like a 10-year-old, when you’re talking to them and their mind is [elsewhere]… He was just not there.
“The worst trainer. Monday comes [and Jose would shout] ‘Ricky! Ricky! Ricardo! Go home!’, and then he’d send him home. [Carvalho would reply] ‘But I’m here!’… ‘Just go home.’
“Dreamy, dopey, dosey, call it whatever you want. Not doing his job. But Mourinho knew, come Saturday he’s playing. Man of the match: Ricardo Carvalho.
“For the life of me, I couldn’t understand. This guy, sometimes you feel like he needs a slap so his brain would shake, and then he’d function, but we couldn’t understand how he could do it.
“For one season, I’ve never seen anything like it, you know when they do the ratings? This guy never gets less than a 7.5/10.”
Who would have thought it? Mourinho has coached the likes of Mario Balotelli yet of all people Carvalho was one of the more difficult players to handle and McCarthy certainly vouches for it.
Nevertheless, whatever the Special One had to do to sort the situation, it reaped a Champions League trophy-shaped reward. Furthermore, it even earned him a reunion with the Portuguese at Real Madrid six years later.
Meanwhile, McCarthy was tasting relegation at West Ham under the management of Avram Grant. Sorry, Benni.
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