McCarthy – who initiated the move that resulted in Pirates' first goal during their 3-1 victory over Bidvest Wits in the Telkom Knockout Cup Final – has been central in the revival of the Julio Leal-coached side, who are now putting their League title defence back on track. Lekgwathi says McCarthy is an inspiration to the young Pirates players who dream of following in his footsteps by playing in the more lucrative European leagues. In a chat with KickOff.com, the Bucs skipper says McCarthy, who had a fruitful 11-year stint in Europe, has not lost any of the hunger and competitiveness that saw him rise to become one of the most potent strikers around during his peak. He says: "Benni has lifted our game. He was not fully fit when he joined us at the beginning of the season but he has been working hard and his efforts are now paying off. "He is established as a player but despite this, he remains very humble and is a team player. "Benni is a thorough professional and his experience is proving to be vital to the team. He is a leading example to the younger players who also want to play in Europe." The Pirates captain says McCarthy plays a key role in some of the important decisions that are made during matches. "Benni is very experienced. He is a player who has won League titles in Europe, including the Uefa Champions League. This makes his input very valuable on the field," Lekgwathi says.