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Carlos Tevez: Skilled yet Combustible

After a career filled with controversy and a media-paraded passage through his time in a country, Carlos Tevez now makes his money back at home in Argentina with boyhood club Boca Juniors, having shown off his skill, spirit and storm in England with the likes of West Ham United, Manchester United and, outrageously, for those in the red half, Manchester City. These moves were sandwiched in between stints in Brazil and Italy with Corinthians and Juventus.

A glittering club career wasn’t always reflected on the international stage as his records show, as his combustible attitude didn’t go down well with long-term manager Alejandro Sabella. Nonetheless, his goalscoring spree earned him many admirers throughout—with the appreciation starting at home in coastal Ciudadela.

It was in the Buenos Aires Province where Tevez first learned to kick a football and he honed his skills there. Raised in a neighbourhood called Barrio Ejército de Los Andes (Army of the Andes Barrio), more commonly known as Fuerte Apache, it was here that Tevez earned his ‘El Apache‘ nickname for his powerful style of football.

Growing up wasn’t easy. An incident which left him his famous scars over his neck were caused by boiling water, leaving him to suffer from third-degree burns and in need of intensive care. His scars are a symbol of him—one he respects, and chose not to cosmetically remove when offered the chance by Boca Juniors.

Tevez started his career with his local club Atlético Old Boys, before switching across 21 kilometres to Boca Juniors to feature for their youth setup. At the age of 16, Tevez made his first appearance for the Buenos Aires club’s senior team against Club Atlético Talleres in the Argentine Primera Liga of 2001.

Boca Juniors made Tevez the forward he is today. The flair, the intensity and skill in South America honed the skill that he would diffuse upon the best leagues in Europe. Trained in the prestige of the Boca atmosphere, Tevez’s second season showed off what was expected of him. 16 goals in 41 appearances in all competitions, including five in nine appearances in the Copa Sudamericana, seemed a good return for a forward still in his teen years. This was a sign of things to come.

Tevez’s stock was rising in European markets and several clubs started taking note of this tenacious, young forward. And while Europe was staring at him, he was unfazed, and continued performing for Boca. He helped them win the Copa Libertadores in 2003, beating Brazil’s Santos in the final 5-1 on aggerate with Tevez scoring once in the tie. The win helped propel them to the Intercontinental Cup, which they also won, beating European Champions. Milan 3-1 on penalties in Japan. He continued to make a name for himself in Argentina, and in 2005, a move was sealed.

Tevez did move north out of Argentina, but took a pit stop at the Mecca of football. Corinthians in Brazil snapped him up for a $22 million fee. The move bore fruit for the Timão, as his sensational record of 31 goals in 52 appearances in all competitions helped fire the Sao Paulo club to their first top-division Brazilian league championship since 1999.

Tevez’s 20 league goals helped him finish as the league’s third highest goal scorer, only behind Paysandu‘s Róbson and the legendary Romário of Vasco da Gama. He was named the league’s best player—becoming the first non-Brazilian to do so since 1976. His second season saw him make a considerable impact on the team, albeit less than his first season. Along the middle of the season, he quoted his lack of desire to represent Corinthians any further. A move was on the cards.

“It’s like they don’t want an Argentine to succeed in Brazilian soccer. If nothing changes, I think it will be difficult for me to stay.”—Carlos Tevez, 23rd August 2006

Tevez’s record 46 goals in 76 games for the Sao Paulo club proved to be money’s worth for them. His European destiny was now taking shape. A move to the Academy of Football, West Ham United in East London was sealed, along with compatriot Javier Mascherano.

However, it ended up being more complicated than it looked. Both Tevez and Mascherano were owned by third party owners in the form of Media Sports Investments (MSI), and this was strictly forbidden in the Premier League. Along the way of the 2006-07 season, amidst West Ham’s struggling league form, the Premier League got hold of this situation, and repercussions were to follow.

West Ham were fined a record £5.5 million for the two signings, but the two were free to play for the club. Although he didn’t have the greatest goalscoring record at the club, the times he did score, it proved vital for the club.

On the final day of the season, in a game against champions Manchester United at Old Trafford, Tevez scored a dramatic late winner and sealed West Ham’s survival as well as Sheffield United’s eventual relegation—an act which earned his ‘cult hero’ status amongst The Irons faithful.

Relegated Sheffield United demanded that West Ham pay them a fee of up to £30 million as compensation due to the signing of Tevez—which they believed was the cost of relegation. A dispute spread over the course of two years was finally settled with The Hammers paying a fee of £20 million spread over five years to Sheffield United. This was not the last time the Argentine was to be embroiled in a transfer saga.

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson took notice of Tevez’s persistent style of play and snapped him up on a two-year loan deal, with his third-party issue still dragging on. His first season saw him become the darling of Old Trafford. Consistent performances drew the pleasure of the Red Devils faithful and constantly prompted chants of ‘Fergie, sign him up!’—an ode to make his temporary deal permanent. 19 goals in 48 appearances in all competitions saw United seal a historic double of the UEFA Champions League and the Premier League.

Tevez came into the next season still not entirely as a full Manchester United player. United were once again expected to win everything and with the formidable attacking partnership of Rooney, Tevez and Ballon d’Or holder Cristiano Ronaldo, it would have been no surprise.

Although Tevez scored fewer goals, he did manage a successful season in the red of United as they once again sealed a double, this time with the English League Cup and the Premier League as well as making the UEFA Champions League final, only to lose out to Pep Guardiola‘s Barcelona in Rome, a game in which Tevez, disappointingly, didn’t start.

“I wanted to play in the starting line-up in Rome but that decision was down to the coach. It has not been a good time for me because I believe I should have played more.” – Carlos Tevez, 23rd May 2009

It was at this time that his permanent move to Old Trafford was most at doubt. With complications of Third Party Ownership as well as rising interest from clubs around Europe. Manager Sir Alex Ferguson and Chief Executive David Gill regularly stated the Tevez deal would have been completed, but no official word ever struck.

United’s cross-town rivals, Manchester City, who were recently taken over by the royalty of Abu Dhabi were sniffing up interest in the saga at the neighbours’. With their riches and recent history of snapping up big names, signing Tevez didn’t seem an unreasonable target. A reported package of £140,000 a week was offered to the Argentine for his services, more than £50000 of what United were offering; a package that was controversially accepted. Tevez would now wear sky blue. The Manchester sin was committed.

A disputed ‘Welcome to Manchester’ with Tevez starring in it was adorned near Salford, close to where United are based, to rile up the Red Devils faithful. This rivalry now took a new twist with City now believing they could match up to United.

His first visit back at Old Trafford in the September 2009 saw a classic encounter between the two clubs. With the constant boos and a hampering knee injury, Tevez failed to further displeasure the United faithful in a fantastic 4-3 win for the team in red. At a place where he felt undervalued, a poor performance justified the United board’s constant lagging of sealing a permanent deal.

The performance at Old Trafford that afternoon proved to be a one-off. In a largely successful stint at Eastlands, Tevez helped the club win their first trophy in 34 years as well as help them qualify for the UEFA Champions League for the first time in their history. This was also followed by their first ever Premier League title, in dramatic circumstances in 2012. A magnificent record of 73 goals in 148 games was however marred by dubious decisions on and off the pitch.

In a Champions League game against Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena in September 2011, a situation occurred where Tevez seemingly refused to come off the bench and play the rest of the game. Manager Roberto Mancini blamed him for the issue and said he ‘wanted him out of the club’, while Tevez pinned it as a mere misunderstanding.

A strange situation saw the owner Sheikh Mansour hand Tevez a suspension, which eventually turned into a paid leave lasting nearly six months away from the club. He eventually returned in February of 2012 and fired City to their first ever Premier League title.

Tevez had also publicly stated his desire to return to Argentina while still under contract at Manchester City. His relationship with his family was allegedly worsening while in Manchester. He handed in a written transfer request—an appeal rejected much to his disappointment. In 2013, he finally got his move after an unhealthy relationship with club owners. This was a move eastwards to Italy with the Turin dynasty of Juventus.

Juventus were already a success when they signed the Argentinean hitman. Recovered from the hard-hitting Calciopoli scandal, they were now looking to become a force in Europe once again. Their vision was becoming a reality with Tevez constantly firing his team past opponents on the grandest stage.

In his second and final year with the Bianconeri, Tevez helped take the club to the UEFA Champions League final, beating the likes of Borussia Dortmund, Monaco and defending champions Real Madrid along the way, but unfortunately lost to Barcelona in the final in Berlin. His time in Juventus saw him score 50 goals as well as win two Scudetti and one Coppa Italia, as he returned home in 2015.

Tevez is now back at Boca Juniors where is making a large impact on the team. The 32-year-old has already fired Boca to the Argentine Primera Division title as well as the Copa Argentina. A career filled with goals, history, trauma and suspect decisions in now reaching its twilight at the La Bombonera.


Main Photo: BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA – SEPTEMBER 19:  Carlos Tevez of Boca Juniors fights for the ball with Ezequiel Ham of Argentinos Juniors  during a match between Argentinos Juniors and Boca Juniors as part of 25th round of Torneo Primera Division 2015 at Diego Armando Maradona Stadium on September 19, 2015 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. (Photo by Gabriel Rossi/LatinContent/Getty Images)


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