Former soccer star and coach Benni McCarthy. Picture: Supplied

Cape Town - Benni McCarthy’s rags-to-riches tale is a story of hard work, self-sacrifice and life lessons.

Benni was a young boy from the Cape Flats who had to overcome many obstacles to eventually win a UEFA Champions League medal. He didn't stop there. He went on to become one of the top coaches in South Africa. 

“Too many people think that I’m a footballer and that’s it, but there’s so much more,’ the former Cape Town City FC coach told financial services provider DirectAxis.

Benni's revealed he had lost friends due to shootings, saying they were always on the lookout for cars they did not recognise.

His parents played a major role in keeping him out of trouble. His mother instilled in him that you don’t get anything without working for it.

“Without my mom I would have been a casualty of the Cape Flats.”

His mother's belief in hard work inspired him to train harder. He began road running to build fitness and stamina and practice with the bigger, senior players to improve his game.

He got his first big break at age 17 when he was signed by then first-division club, Seven Stars.

His manager at the time made sure he stayed grounded and taught him about keeping tight control of the purse strings.

“He taught me that you can’t just live for today, you have to think about tomorrow. Don’t forget about where you come from and invest right.”

“Everybody wants the fancy car, to be on social media and to wear fancy clothes but give no thought to where you want to see yourself financially in 10 years’ time.

His work ethic combined with the lessons he learned about budgeting, he embarked on his coaching career. 

He achieved a UEFA Pro coaching qualification that allowed a coach to manage any team in the world.

He soon a call from Cape Town City chairman, John Comitis who offered him the Cape Town City coaching job.

Benni urged his fans to be themselves, be consistent and not worry about fitting in. 

“Make sure you’ve got enough to meet your needs. Save a bit and invest.”