Benni shows he has a big heart

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The Blackburn Rovers’ South African international left an 11-year-old girl in agony after accidentally kicking the ball into her face during the away 2-1 Carling Cup victory against Portsmouth last month.

But as soon as he realised what had happened, McCarthy stopped playing to make sure Ellen Hatch was not seriously hurt.

The young girl’s family were so impressed with Benni’s concern that Ellen’s mother, Lynn, wrote to Blackburn Rovers to thank Benni.

And to Ellen’s surprise she received a signed Blackburn Rovers shirt which had an apology on the front and a photograph.

Ellen had been sitting in the north stand at Fratton Park with her father, Steve, when the accident happened.

“We had moved from behind the goal at half time, then in the second half I saw a ball just appear in front of me and it hit me on my head. My neck went right back and I cried.

“I think Benni McCarthy was clearing the ball when it hit me. He spotted that I was hurt straight away and came over to ask if I was OK. And then he waited until I was OK before he went back to play the game.

“I had a headache for a couple of days. It was my first home game I went to and I won’t forget it,” she added.

On the signed shirt, Benni had written, ‘To Ellen, sorry for hitting you with the ball and I hope you’re feeling better.’

She said: “I was really chuffed when I got the shirt and the photograph, and it was really kind of him. I’m a Blackburn Rovers fan now, but I said to my dad I’m still a Portsmouth fan too.”

Steve, a prison warder, said: “Much to his credit Benni made sure she was OK whilst the game was still going on, a point which was appreciated by both of us and many of the Pompey fans in that section.

“It goes to show that regardless of the bad press some footballers attract, there are still some gentlemen left in the game, and to me it proves that Rovers are a quality outfit both on and off the pitch.”

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