South Africa's Benni McCarthy joins Orlando Pirates

South Africa's Benni McCarthy
McCarthy's return home ends a 14-year exodus in Europe, where he played for Ajax Amsterdam, Celta Vigo, Porto, Blackburn Rovers (above) and West Ham

South Africa's Benni McCarthy has signed for Orlando Pirates to end a 14-year spell in Europe.

The former Bafana Bafana international, 33, joined the Johannesburg club on a two-year deal on Tuesday.

"Benni is one of the most successful and recognizable soccer players in South Africa over the past decade," Pirates chairman Irvin Khoza told the club's official website.

"We are delighted that he has decided to join the club."

"His international pedigree is second to none and he is a proven winner."

McCarthy had been a free agent after having his contract with West Ham United terminated by mutual consent in April.

Since leaving Cape Town Spurs in 1997, McCarthy played for a host of European clubs - starting with Ajax Amsterdam in the Netherlands.

After a spell with Spain's Celta Vigo, he joined Portuguese side Porto, with whom he won the Uefa Champions League in 2004, before then moving to England.

He enjoyed mixed fortunes with Blackburn Rovers before joining West Ham, where his career started to peter out as he battled with weight problems.

His fitness and poor form meant that McCarthy failed to make Bafana Bafana's squad for the 2010 World Cup, which was staged on South African soil.

McCarthy had returned to train at the start of South Africa's pre-season with Ajax Cape Town, where it seemed he might sign until Pirates, the reigning champions, revealed their interest.

"The reception I have got from everyone at the club and the fans I have already met in the street has been great," Bafana Bafana's all-time top scorer told Pirates' website.

"Everyone was optimistic and gave me a really good feeling.

"I'm thrilled and delighted and hope I can show my appreciation by coming in and playing good football and hope to score as many goals as possible to put the team where they belong."

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