Benjani pledges to play on after international retirement

Benjani
Benjani
Gary Roberts. Picture: Joe Pepler

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Benjani celebrated his international retirement with an all-star testimonial – then pledged not to call it a day from domestic football.

The 33-year-old is a free agent after Pompey decided against renewing his contract.

That brought to an end a Fratton Park career which saw the Zimbabwean score 20 goals in 94 appearances over his two spells at Fratton Park.

In the meantime, Benjani has officially quit international football.

To mark the announcement, a testimonial match was staged in Harare on Saturday, with 40,000 fans in attendance.

They included current Pompey players Kanu and Aaron Mokoena, while former Blues favourites Lomana Lualua and Yakubu also featured in the encounter which pitted the Zimbabwe national team against an African all-star side.

The fixture also featured El-Hadji Diouf, John Pantsil, former Coventry City striker Peter Ndlovu and ex-Leeds defender Lucas Radebe, with funds raised going towards the Benjani Mwaruwari Foundation to help the underprivileged in Zimbabwe.

In the end, the Zimbabwe national side beat the All-Stars 7-4, with Benjani playing on both teams and scoring in both halves.

But the former Manchester City striker has no intentions of retiring from football altogether.

He said: ‘I’m planning to give some of the funds raised from the game to charity and the rest to build a football academy.

‘I can’t say at the moment where I will play next, I’ll take it as it comes.

‘But you know at my stage of my career, that’s where you really start to enjoy, when you are about to finish.

‘I’m looking forward to keeping on having one-year deals every season.’

Lualua played alongside Benjani during his first spell at Pompey.

And the ex-Blackpool striker was quick to pay tribute to his friend.

He added: ‘We respect him, we love him, he’s a brother and a very humble person, and us all being there says it all.’