Benni McCarthy: "Playing in a World Cup is like being in prison"
Benni McCarthy is no stranger to World Cups. A fresh faced, 19 year old striker at the 1998 World Cup, Benni moved quickly up the football ladder to represent South Africa in the English Premiership and grabbing the honour of top goal scorer in South African history.
16 years after making his World Cup debut, almost to the day, The Juice spoke to Benni about his world Cup experience and his thoughts on this years tournament.
Benni! So good to speak to you again. Firstly, where will you be watching the World Cup opening ceremony tonight?
I'm in the UK right now so I'll probably watch it at home here or at the in-laws. My in-laws are huge football fans so most likely we'll all head over there and watch the opening together, sitting on the couch, bantering. I can't wait.
And who do you reckon will win the World Cup this year?
I have this feeling, that just won't go away, that Argentina will finally win it this year. They have to take it, I mean, they have Messi and Aguero to name just a few. They are incredibly talented and any team with Messi in it has to have a very real chance of winning it.
What about Brazil? They are playing at home after all.
They under pressure at the moment, playing at home can be nerve racking as much as it is exhilarating. I think they probably played their best football at the Confederations Cup a few months ago, so I'm not sure they anywhere near peaking again. But they will be there near the end of the tournament.
In every World Cup a footballer emerges who really shined and went on to make the World Cup his own. Who do you think it will be this year?
I've got this feeling that it's gonna be Eden Hazard. He's on a high at the moment and I think he can carry that into the World Cup. The Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho recently said he has incredible potential and it's hard to disagree with that. Belgium (Eden's national team) have a great squad and the players help him be incredible.
Finally, tell us about your experiences in the World Cup
The World Cup is a crazy experience, man. It's like being in a prison. Just because there is so much security and policing. Everywhere you go, if you can get the permission to go anywhere, you are swarmed by security and photographers. You have to be escorted everywhere and that kind of takes the fun out of the tournament. When we went to the World Cup in 1998, we tried to make it fun, but when you concentrating 0n getting out of the group stages and doing your country proud it can get really stressful and not much fun.