Johannesburg - Faced with the dubious honour of entering the Guinness Book of records as the first major soccer player facing a R2m club fine for being too fat, beefy former Bafana Bafana star Benni McCarthy was "banished" from the West Ham squad for Saturday's opening 3-0 Premier League defeat against Aston Villa.
Although not expected to be included in the starting line-up against Villa after club chairman David Sullivan had announced that McCarthy faced an approximate R400 000 fine over each of the next five weeks if he did not shed a kilogram of weight during each of the seven-day periods, it was still speculated McCarthy might find a place on the substitute's bench in view of the Hammers finding themselves faced with a number of injuries.
McCarthy, however, did not as much as feature among the seven listed substitutes and West Ham clearly mean business about trimming the weight of a player who cost them R25m in a transfer from Blackburn Rovers at the start of the year - but has provided the London club with no compensation for their outlay thus far.
Bafana's all-time leading scorer, however, remains insistent that he will accept all the jibes about his weight and diminished fitness as motivation and not only lose the required five kilograms over the next five weeks, but also kick-start his becalmed career at West Ham in the process.
The road back, nevertheless, for the player who turns 33 in November, will be difficult to climb - loss of weight or not.