Out now: 'Big Dreams, Limitless Belief'

Wednesday 22 May 2024 13:35

“Get Oprah on the phone. We’re going on Oprah next.”

As recording wrapped on Big Dreams, Limitless Belief last week, Quinton Fortune knew that he and Benni McCarthy had given us something special. In little more than half an hour, the close friends and former Bafana Bafana team-mates had explained how they both reached the peak of club football despite having, as Benni termed it: “Zero percent chance of getting out of there.”
Big Dreams, Limitless Belief Video

Big Dreams, Limitless Belief

NEW: Benni McCarthy & Quinton Fortune scored as Porto met United 20 years ago, crowning their escape from the Cape Flats…

‘There’ is the Cape Flats, a near-lawless area of Cape Town, South Africa where life is more perpetually endangered than almost anywhere else on the planet. During their interview, both Benni and Quinny shared unbelievable tales of their upbringing in the Flats, where even the school run is set to a backdrop of gangsterism, unfolding in a permanent territorial war. Everyone has a journey to Old Trafford. Few – if any – can rival theirs in terms of overcoming sheer adversity.

This isn’t a ghoulish retrospective of how the pair broke free from South Africa’s ghetto life; it’s a celebration of their strength of humanity and their determination to fashion a life from dreams. If, as Benni said, the odds of leaving the Flats to make it as a footballer in Europe were nil, then what would statisticians have made of 2004’s Champions League encounter between Porto and United in Estadio do Dragao, where two Flats escapees scored all three goals?

When Benni and Quinny met in Europe Video

When Benni and Quinny met in Europe

South Africa stole the show when Porto and United met in February 2004, as Benni and Quinny scored three goals...

Lost amidst the infamy of events in the return leg at Old Trafford, where Porto survived an early onslaught (and an errantly-disallowed Paul Scholes goal) to progress, launching Jose Mourinho into Special One status, that first leg was a victory for another nation in another continent. Though the Champions League is European football’s baby, South Africa rejoiced as one that evening, eschewing sides in favour of celebrating their sons’ journeys.

By the time they retired and crossed the touchline – Benni as part of Erik ten Hag’s coaching staff, Quinny most recently coaching at Mexico’s Deportivo Guadalajara – both men were among the most successful South African footballers in history. Today, they are living proof of an alternative route in a world which seemingly offered only the short march to death. Both are immovably proud of their lives so far. They are family men and, while they will forever shield their own children from the horrors they experienced, they will share the lessons which arose.

Big Dreams, Limitless Belief
Features editor Steve Bartram says

"This isn’t a ghoulish retrospective of how the pair broke free from South Africa’s ghetto life; it’s a celebration of their strength of humanity and their determination to fashion a life from dreams."

In making Big Dreams, Limitless Belief, they were gracious and generous enough to share some of those experiences. In a final cut lasting little more than 20 minutes, there are tales to chill the blood and warm the soul. This is a bigger story than football. As both former players concluded at the end of the interview, their story is proof that anyone, anywhere can do anything. 

Maybe even make it onto Oprah.

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