Football is a tricky game. One day you find yourself on top of the world & before you know it, you suddenly become a forgotten man. If football teaches you anything, it is that hard work & perseverance are two elements which push you not just to success but also excellence. New players come every year, young & raw with an eye to become a worldwide sensation but little do they know that the game is harder than they have ever imagined.
All this leads me to a player who has established himself as one of the greatest to have stepped out on the field. A player, who although has been an underrated superstar over the years, his contribution & impact in the beautiful game will not go unnoticed. Yes, I'm talking about Carlos Tevez.
Even though Tevez was born in Ciudadela, Buenos Aires, he was raised in Fuerte Apache from where he got his nickname El Apache. Tevez's career has been surrounded by silverware as well as controversies. He started his career with Boca Juniors, making his debut alongside one of the greatest ever Argentine footballer, Juan Román Riquelme who is a national icon as well as an incredibly creative playmaker. Well, Riquelme's career is a huge story & it's better to put that aside for now.
Tevez spent four seasons at Boca before moving to Brazilian super team Corinthians for a record fee. Tevez left Argentina as one of the brightest young talents in the country & the expectations were really high at Corinthians. He left Boca making waves of fume all over Argentina after a "chicken dance" to mock the River Plate fans in the 2004 Libertadores semi-final. If you're not aware, Boca & River have a beautiful but intense bond between them which leaves players & fans make fun & hurt each other. The most recent Libertadores final would be enough to justify that statement.
Tevez was named as the league's best player by the Brazilian Confederation, becoming the first non-Brazilian to win it since 1976. He captained Corinthians to Campeonato Brasileiro as well in 2005. After a wonderful debut season with Corinthians, started a series of controversial events. Tevez wasn't in good terms with the club hierarchy in Brazil & the Argentine broke his silence, claiming to leave the club due to what he referred to as "broken promises". And as he said, he left Brazil for a place far away which was a dream move to London, England.
Tevez joined West Ham United along with his national mate Javier Mascherano in what was a typical fraudulent fashion. Tevez's contract with the Hammers included a third party company - Media Sports Investment (MSI) - who had the legal rights to Tevez's future transfer which would leave West Ham having no choice but to accept. This rule wherein a third-party owning a player has been banned in the Premier League now & West Ham had to pay an amount as they were hit with a fee by the FA for the breach of regulations for the Tevez transfer. West Ham had this information withheld from the FA as well.
Unlike his previous spells, El Apache didn't have the brightest of starts in England. He joined a club who was in a crisis on the pitch & he took six months to register his first goal for the London based club. Despite his slow start, the fans in Upton Park was fully supportive of the Argentine which was pretty much evident in their home fixtures. West Ham was indeed a lucky club at that time. They had Tevez & Mascherano - two young Argentines who were really promising. Once Tevez got going, the world instantly knew that this guy would go on to achieve great things in the game. Tevez's sudden burst of form towards the end of the season helped West Ham survive relegation. He scored 6 goals in the final 10 games of the season which included critical wins against Arsenal & Manchester United. West Ham dramatically crippled out of the bottom 3 on the final day of the season.
The Argentine became an obvious hero in East London. In a season where relegation was inevitable, they miraculously escaped. What made Tevez so appealing was his overall game & the never die attitude. He fought for every ball, scored, assisted & worked his socks off helping out the midfielders & the defenders in their own half. Well, that was his only season in East London as Sir Alex roped him up for his Manchester United dream team.
Tevez made the biggest move of his career in the summer of 2007 when he put pen to paper on a contract with the Red Devils who had a star-studded lineup bossed by one of the greatest managers in world football. This is what Tevez was meant to do - play for the biggest clubs in world football. It would've been unfair to put a player of his ability in relegation battles & mid table fights. Well, this transfer was again a controversial one with the nasty agent Kia Joorabchian involved again making things worse. It was all dirty & he had already received an offer from Inter earlier in the summer as well. The dirty saga forced Manchester United to only sign the Argentine on a two-year loan deal which again ended dramatically.
At Manchester United, he was part of that tremendous Champions League winning team. He won the Premier League as well the same year. He scored 5 goals in the Champions League campaign in 2007-08 and even took a successful penalty in the shootout vs Chelsea in the final. Tevez was a player who wouldn't settle to play second fiddle & that was to be seen in his body language as well as his game. To describe Tevez, he was a machine who'd run around & do all kinds of work. He'd score goals that'd make people say "Wow, just wow " Tevez scored a combined 19 league goals in 63 games for the Red Devils.
However, there were more & more dramas to come in Tevez's career. After his two-year loan spell at Old Trafford, Sir Alex Ferguson made it clear that he wanted to sign El Apache permanently. The summer of 2009 saw him make a dramatic move to the blue half of Manchester irking Fergie as well as the red half badly. There were a few things going on behind the scenes during his stint at Manchester United wherein he was refusing to learn English & also had some uncomfortable moments with the club staff. Also, he wanted the club to sign him permanently after his first season which of course failed to happen & that made him even more unhappy.
His move to Manchester City was the beginning of a special feeling of hatred between the Argentine & the Manchester United fans. As for Manchester City, Tevez's signing was the beginning of a new era.
At Manchester City, Tevez had a tremendous first season in the top flight of English football. He scored 23 goals in the league making 35 appearances in the season which saw the Cityzens finish 5th in the league despite sacking Mark Hughes in December to bring in Roberto Mancini. They had signed Gareth Barry, Roque Santa Cruz, Adebayor, Kolo Toure & Patrick Vieira in the 09/10 season which helped them make their best ever finish in the Premier League era. The Khaldoon Al Mubarak era had just begun in Manchester.
The 2010/11 saw Roberto Mancini leading his City side to a 3rd place finish. The season saw Manchester City invest a lot in the transfer market as well. They brought in the likes of Yaya Toure, David Silva, Mario Balotelli, Aleksander Kolarov, Edin Džeko to bolster the squad. A third-place finish along with a silverware was a successful season for Manchester City. The FA Cup triumph was a much needed for the club. The season saw Tevez share the golden boot with Dimitar Berbatov in the Premier League. The striker got 20 goals in the league.
However, things started to go bad for him at Manchester although City was going up. The following year, Man City won the Premier League after a thrilling 3-2 win vs QPR in the final game of the season. The title was won on goal difference & it is regarded as the greatest title race in the Premier League era. Tevez made just 13 appearances scoring 4 goals in the greatest season for the club at that time. The following season he scored 11 goals before moving to Turin.
During his stint at Manchester City, he became a monster for the opponents. His qualities on the pitch was never a doubt, terrorising his opponents with his sheer power & work rate. Tevez possessed something that not many players had, which was a never say die attitude. He'd be there in every half challenges, fighting for the goal & my god he was greedy for goals.
However, his off the pitch antics was once again evident. Things took a turn after that infamous Munich incident in 2011. He had a fight with boss Roberto Mancini & Tevez compared Mancini's treatment to a dog. A hero out on the pitch & a villain off it. Tevez was a cult figure wherever he went.
In 2013, he finally accepted a deal to sign for Juventus who were becoming a dominant force in Italy. With the addition of Carlos Tevez, the Bianconeri got even stronger & the one-way domination continues till date in Italy. The Argentine forward had a phenomenal debut season in Italy netting 21 goals in all competitions in addition to providing 8 assists. Juventus finished the season with a record 102 points. However, Antonio Conte stepped down as the manager at the end of the season after deciding to be the Italian National Team coach. The Old Lady were a force to reckon with in Italy but their European adventures were a huge disappointment under the Italian.
In 2014, Juve appointed Massimiliano Allegri as their manager which was the start of a special spell for Tevez. He thrived even more under Allegri & bettered almost every single stat as compared to the previous season under Conte. Tevez supposedly was quoted saying that a change in the system helped him make those improvements. Under Allegri, he had much more freedom to move than under Conte which improved his game massively.
The season also saw him break Juve's horrific European stints as well. His goals & performances helped Juventus finally cross the group stages of the UEFA Champions League. And it didn't end there. Juventus went on to reach the Champions League final where they faced Barcelona. Tevez scored 7 goals in the Champions League that season in addition to his 20 goals and 7 assists in the Serie A that year. Tevez was having a wonderful time on the pitch along with the likes of Andrea Pirlo, Paul Pogba, Arturo Vidal, Gigi Buffon & Giorgio Chiellini.
Tevez added extra steel & drive to that Juventus team & his never say die attitude helped the team massively in Europe. Juventus under Allegri became a force to reckon with in Europe as well, thanks to Carlos Tevez & his amazing foot. Tevez was also named the Serie A footballer of the year for the 2014/15 season. He returned back to Boca Juniors in the summer of 2015 with a desire to win the Primera División. And to his delight, he became the first player to win two domestic league titles & cup double in a calendar year. He was also nominated for the Best Player in Europe that year in which he finished ninth.
With Tevez, you could always expect madness & yes there was one more bit of extraordinary madness. In December 2016, Tevez went on to join Shanghai Shenhua for a baffling amount. He was earning a whopping $41 million per year in China. The move didn't work out and he ended up back at Boca. But it has been a downward spiral at La Bombonera since then. Tevez's third spell at Boca has been an unforgettable one.
Tevez's international career wasn't much of a success. He kicked off for Argentina when he bagged a gold medal in the 2004 Olympics with Argentina in which he scored 8 goals in 6 games. He also represented his country in the 2004 Copa América where they lost to rivals Brazil on the final on penalties. He scored a whopping 16 goals in 2004 for Argentina which was second to only Iran's Ali Daei.
Tevez went on to play for his nation in the 2007 Copa América where they were again the runners-up. He also capped a goal in the 2006 FIFA World Cup. Tevez didn't have the greatest of times with the national team but was selected for the 2010 World Cup coached by his idol Diego Armando Maradona. He had a disappointing experience at the 2011 Copa América as well after which he remained out of the National Team for three years. Tevez was even left out of the 2014 World Cup squad hence missing out on a runners-up medal.
Tevez came back into the National Team to bag his third runners-up medal in the Copa América in 2015 where Argentina lost to Chile. He was omitted for the same tournament next year which was the Copa América Centenario where Argentina again lost out to Chile in the final. Tevez has been out of the National Team since then and it looks like his National career is over. He couldn't recreate his club performances for his nation which was not surprising as the case was the same with all the other Argentinean footballers. Even the mighty Leo Messi fails to show up when it comes to the National Team.
There were a series of incidents which label Tevez as the devil. His awful & nasty challenge on Ham, which almost broke his leg led to the player being out for around 2 years. Tevez has always seen Maradona as his idol & has also had Maradona heaping a lot of praise on him. In Argentina, Tevez is widely regarded as the people's player despite all the negative thoughts & views in Europe. Well, you wouldn't blame a player going out to make some money at the dying stages of their career & that is exactly what Tevez did with his move to China - one last big pay cheque to enjoy his life even after retirement.
For people who call him greedy, yes his greed for goals & success was second to none in the game but there was never greed for money. He has a lot of brothers & sisters for whom he has bought houses. And he has also set up a foundation in Fuerte Apache. Tevez may not look a nice guy to you but he is one nice guy once you get in touch with him. Although he never spoke English properly, his friendship with Park Ji-Sung & Patrice Evra at Manchester United was an example. Michael Carrick described it as the "strangest friendship in the world" due to the communication barrier involved.
He has got his image tarnished quite often but that has never let him back down and fighting for what he always was, a wonderful footballer & a family man - figure who was quite hard to understand from the outside.
I remember Maradona, Batigol, Crespo, Messi but Tevez was & always will be the people's player in Argentina. Although he was never a top figure in the international scene for Argentina, he has always been loved and adored by the people there.
Tevez is somewhat a special figure. I remember transferring him to my team every time I played FIFA because he was that good. He wasn't the kind of player who'd go out to buy stardom & hype but earn it. Call him a little panzer or a little bullet. A player for the people, a story for the ages and career for the books, Carlos Tevez is what you could call a two-faced player. It's worth saying that we'll miss Tevez & everything that he brings the day he hangs up those magical boots. Quite a blistering story of a two-faced man who is the people's champion.Published 09 Mar 2019, 20:47 IST