Tenacious, clinical, and now slightly overweight striker Carlos Tevez has announced his immediate retirement from football, after a stunning 21-year senior career. A player that certainly divided opinion, and one who was never far away from the controversy, I think I speak for most fans when I say I would have loved him to play for my club at some point in his career. However, things could have been so different for Carlos Tevez.
Growing up in the troubled Argentinian neighbourhood Fuerte Apache, Tevez had a rather challenging upbringing. A town notorious for drugs, gunfights, and poverty, it was hardly a safe environment for an aspiring footballer to grow up. It would have been easy for Tevez to fall into a similar lifestyle, but his determination to make it as a professional footballer shone through. Making the most of the resources available to him, he began playing street football with the remains of broken tennis balls. It is this type of thing that really shaped his career, and there is a resemblance of his upbringing in his play style.
In his prime, he played like a bulldog that had escaped his lead, frantically running around and harassing defenders. So many times, he would create a goal out of nothing, just by chasing a lost cause. Tevez had a nasty side to his game that many of us loved, getting stuck in and leaving his mark on defenders. No defender got an easy ride if they were facing this man. I’m sure any former Premier League centre-back would tell you that Tevez was an absolute menace to play against. You either loved him or absolutely despised him, there wasn’t really a happy medium.
Throughout his career, he played in five different countries, winning a whopping 11 league trophies, various domestic cups and of course the UEFA Champions League. He has scored some absolute belters in his time, as well as some two-yard tap-ins. He had it all in the locker. Despite this, he never quite seemed to establish his ‘home’ outside of Argentina.
This piece will tell the story of Carlos Tevez’s journey from being a little boy playing football on the streets of Fuerte Apache to becoming one of the most decorated players in Argentinian history.
Boca Juniors – Round 1
Tevez’s first foray into senior football was at Boca Juniors, arguably the biggest club in Argentina. He made his debut at just 16 years of age, immediately drawing comparisons to a certain Argentinian compatriot, Diego Maradona. He was even quoted by the Argentinian media as the heir to Maradona’s throne. In 2002-03, Tevez had his breakthrough season, scoring 16 goals in 41 appearances, guiding Boca to the Copa Libertadores trophy. His first trophy of many.
A successful second season in La Boca followed, and his name was firmly on the cusp of Argentinian fans’ tongues as the next big footballing export. His third and final season in his first spell at Boca was actually his least productive in terms of goals, only scoring four. He played up until January, before he departed Boca for neighbouring Brazil.
The biggest transfer in the history of South American football at the time, Tevez signed for Corinthians for a reported £17.5 million. He played in Brazil for two years, scoring 46 goals in 76 games, establishing himself as one of the biggest prospects in world football.
Amidst rumours of a potential transfer to some of Europe’s biggest clubs, Tevez refused to play for Corinthians before the start of the 2006 season, in a bid to secure a transfer to play at a higher level.
West Ham United
In August 2006, West Ham announced the signing of Argentinian duo Javier Mascherano and Tevez on a permanent deal, a transfer that proved to be one of the most controversial Premier League imports of all time.
The transfer left West Ham embroiled in legal battles. It turned out that Tevez was part owned by Media Sports Investment (MSI), meaning that West Ham had broken Premier League third-party ownership rules. They were eventually fined £5.5 million by the Premier League for their wrongdoing, a record fine at the time.
Tevez on the pitch didn’t fare much better in the first half of the season. He frequently found himself on the bench, with manager Alan Pardew preferring Marlon Harewood up front.
His fortunes changed when Pardew was sacked, with newly instilled boss Alan Curbishley placing his faith in the Argentinian. Tevez repaid this faith instantly, dragging West Ham from the brink of relegation to Premier League safety. He scored seven goals in the second half of the season, including a dramatic winner on the final day of the season against Manchester United, a win that saw West Ham mathematically safe from the drop.
He was named Hammer of the Year for his heroics and became a West Ham legend in his sole season at the club. All West Ham fans will have fond memories of his short stint in London. He even received a standing ovation from the West Ham fans in his first game back at Upton Park since leaving the club. Classy gesture and West Ham fans are not words I ever thought I’d use in the same sentence, but it highlights the impact Tevez had on the Hammers.
Clearly impressed by his performance in the final game of the season, Sir Alex Ferguson signed the dynamic striker for the Red Devils. Due to the ongoing ownership issues, Manchester United had to settle for a two-year loan deal, which took him to the end of his contract at West Ham.
In his first season in Manchester, Tevez scored 19 goals, winning both the Premier League and Champions League. He played a big part in their Champions League win, scoring the first penalty in the iconic Champions League final victory against Chelsea.
In his second season, he formed a lethal partnership with teammates Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo, which led Manchester United to their third successive Premier League title. However, in the final games of the season, Tevez found himself out of favour and often left on the bench.
Tevez voiced his dissatisfaction at this, as well as the fact that there had been no contact made over a permanent contract, with him becoming a free agent in the summer. Despite rumours circulating about his future at Old Trafford, Sir Alex started him in the Manchester derby. He scored two goals before half time, leading to chants of “Fergie sign him up” from the United faithful.
Manchester United finally saw sense and offered him a chance to stay permanently. That is exactly what he did, signing a contract keeping him in Manchester….
That’s right, Tevez did the dirty on United, signing for bitter rivals City. There he was, at the centre of another controversial transfer, as he became the first player to move between the two Manchester clubs since 1999.
Though, there was more to this transfer than meets the eye. It was a statement of intent from City. Seen for many years as a club in Manchester United’s shadows, this was a hugely symbolic moment in Manchester City’s rise to dominance. An elite player had chosen Manchester City over their rowdy neighbours for the first time in many years. City to their credit completely milked the situation, with the infamous ‘Welcome to Manchester’ banner. Sir Alex was left with egg on his face.
Tevez was an instant hit with all eight of Manchester City’s fans, with the “Fergie sign him up” chant the only noise heard at the Etihad throughout the 2009-2010 season. In his first season in sky blue, he notched 29 goals in 42 appearances, as City finished just outside of the Champions League places in 5th place.
Then Roberto Mancini was named City manager and his career began to oscillate. He was named club captain ahead of the 2010 season, but just four months later decided to hand in an official transfer request. The City hierarchy branded the request “ludicrous and nonsensical”, and it was subsequently rejected, leaving Tevez at a crossroads.
No sooner after handing him the captain’s armband, Mancini was forced to strip him of his captaincy duties, placing the armband on Vincent Kompany. We all know how that one went. Tevez got his head down and got back down to business, but it wasn’t long before he was at war with Mancini again.
Mancini was outraged when Tevez supposedly refused to come on as a second half substitute in a Champions League game against Bayern Munich. Left with no other choice, the Italian suspended him from the club and banished him from the first team for the foreseeable future.
However, after failing to secure a January transfer away from the club, he returned to the first team set up in February 2012, making a public apology to Mancini and his teammates. Tevez scored a hat trick against Norwich in a 6-1 thumping, celebrating the third with a golf swing celebration, in reference to him spending his suspension playing golf in Spain. He won his first league title for City in the 2011-12 season, the infamous last gasp victory against QPR – Agueroooooo.
In his final season at the club, he became the first player in Manchester City’s history to score 50 Premier League goals, a record that has since been broken on a couple of occasions. 17 goals in 47 goals was not a great return in comparison to his previous seasons, and it was clear that Tevez needed a change of scenery to get his career back on track.
In June 2013, Tevez signed a 3-year deal at Italian giants Juventus for a reported £12 million and was immediately handed the number 10 shirt, last donned by club icon Alessandro Del Piero. His first year in Turin was a successful one, scoring 21 league goals and helping Juve to their 30th Serie A title. Another trophy to add to the growing collection for Tevez.
The 2013-14 season was a bittersweet season for Tevez and the old lady. He formed a lethal partnership with Spanish striker Alvaro Morata, which fired Juventus to their fourth successive Scudetto. However, with a midfield diamond of Paul Pogba, Claudio Marchisio, Arturo Vidal and Andrea Pirlo supplying the passes, I think even I would have bagged a couple of goals that season. Tevez scored 29 times in 47 games across all competitions, including 7 Champions League strikes.
His most important goal of the season came in the Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid, where he calmly dispatched a penalty to put Juve 2-1 up on aggregate. After holding Real Madrid to a 1-1 draw at the Bernabeu, Tevez found himself in a Champions League final for the second time in his career.
Awaiting them in the final was favourites Barcelona, spearheaded by the dreaded ‘MSN’ combination up front. Barcelona’s attack proved too much for the Juventus defence, as they fell to a 3-1 defeat with both Suarez and Neymar getting on the scoresheet. A devastating end to the season for Tevez.
This proved to be Tevez’s last game in Europe altogether.
Boca Juniors – Round 2
As I mentioned early, by his own accounts Tevez only really ever felt at home in his native Argentina. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that he returned to the club it all began, in a bid to be closer to his family. When he left Juventus, he cited that he wanted to “conquer his country with Boca Juniors”.
Tevez didn’t have to wait long for his first piece of silverware back in Argentina, with Boca being crowned the Primera Division champions just a few months after his arrival. He scored 9 goals in 18 games as Boca also won the Copa Argentina, a domestic double in his first season back home.
The 2016 season didn’t quite hit the heights as his first year back, scoring just 4 league goals all season as Boca finished in 10th place. Tevez did spearhead his club to the semi-final of the Copa Libertadores, but they were humiliated by Ecuadorian side Independiente del Valle 5-3 on aggregate.
Carlos Tevez had complained about being homesick at nearly every European club he played at. He handed in a transfer request at Manchester City in a bid to return home. He was quoted in the media just days before the Champions League final as wanting to return to Boca Juniors, whilst still a Juventus player. Just two years after returning to Argentina and he was back off on his travels, this time raising many eyebrows and jetting off to Chinese Super League club Shanghai Shenhua.
In my eyes, if you are over the age of 30 and playing in the Chinese Super League, you’ve pretty much already retired. He certainly would have had enough money to retire, as he was made one of the highest paid players in the world
His whole time at Shanghai Shenhua was treated as a bit of a joke. Clearly enjoying the Chinese cuisine whilst out there, Tevez may have had one chicken ball too many, as he piled on the pounds. He was criticised on multiple occasions by manager Wu Jingui for being too overweight and unfit to play.
In his sole year in China, he was paid a ridiculous £32 million in wages, yet only managed 4 goals in 20 appearances. £8 million per goal, what a bargain! I promise I’m not salty or jealous….
Tevez later described his time in China as a ‘holiday’, which I’m sure went down a treat with the Chinese Super League fans.
Boca Juniors – Round 3
After just one year in China, Tevez decided to take the £32 million and run back to Argentina for one last dance. In almost every interview he had done since turning 30, he spoke of his desire to retire at Boca Juniors, the club that gave him the chance to go on and have the career he had.
After four more years in La Boca, and two more Primera Division titles added to the collection, Tevez announced in June 2021 that he would leave Boca Juniors for good in an emotional press conference.
His decision was motivated by the devastating loss of his father, Segundo Tevez, who sadly died aged 58 after contracting COVID-19. In a bid to spend more time with his family, and after losing his ‘number one fan’, Tevez made the decision to retire from football just last week (June 2022), aged 38.
With 822 career appearances, 323 career goals, three Premier League titles, two Serie A titles, four Primera Division titles and a Champions League medal, El Apache retires as one of the most successful players in Argentina’s history.