First XI

The trouble with Tevez

December 16, 2010
By Robin Hackett
(Archive)

Without question one of the most talented players in world football, Carlos Tevez has, nonetheless, left a trail of problems everywhere he has played. ESPNsoccernet selects a list of his greatest hits.

Bother at Boca (2004)

Carlos Tevez was unhappy about the media intrusion during his time with Boca Juniors
AssociatedCarlos Tevez was unhappy about the media intrusion during his time with Boca Juniors

• Forum: Should Tevez be skipper?

Tevez has never hidden his love for Boca Juniors but, after winning the Apertura, Copa Libertadores, Intercontinental Cup and Copasudamericana with the club he joined in 1997, he had itchy feet.

The press, he felt, had been too intrusive in covering both his sporting career and his personal life - the subject of intense scrutiny as he balanced a relationship with model Natalia Fassi and getting his ex pregnant. A photojournalist for Paparazzi magazine filed a police complaint in September 2004 against Tevez, claiming the player "grabbed him by the throat and punched him".

In October 2004, Boca president Mauricio Macri said he had to "recognise that, yes, he's going to leave", but stressed the club wanted the deal to happen in June, after the Copa Libertadores campaign, rather than in January.

By December, vice-president Pedro Pompilio revealed they had given up: "Tevez says there is no question that he wants to go. He doesn't want to wait until June. What saddens us and annoys us a bit at the same time is that our best player, and at such a young age, should have played such a short time at this club."

Despite interest from Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid, he joined Brazilian side Corinthians on a five-year deal as part of a deal with the Media Sports Investment company.

The king of Corinthians (2005-06)

Tevez became an instant hit in Brazil, where he was joined by compatriots including Sebastian Dominguez, Javier Mascherano and coach Daniel Passarella, as well as resuming his relationship with the mother of his child.

"I identified with the Corinthians fans," he said. "I am humble and come from a poor neighbourhood, just like these fans. I am delighted if they see me as one of them."

In 2006, his relationship with the club deteriorated beyond repair.

He had grown wary of the security levels in Brazil, particularly after Corinthians fans entered the pitch and attempted to attack the players during a Copa Libertadores defeat to River Plate.

Passarella had been forced out after a player revolt in 2005 and, when Emerson Leao came in August the following year, he instantly stripped Tevez of the captain's armband because, he said, he couldn't understand the player's attempts at Portuguese. "I even tried to explain my decision to him, but he didn't understand," Leao joked, adding weight to the perception that he was no fan of Argentineans.

Other problems were more of the player's own making. He was involved in a fist fight with Marquinos in training, banned for swearing at a referee, made derogatory remarks about female referees and upset the fans who had idolised him: celebrating a goal against Fortaleza, he made a silence gesture after the team had been booed. After the game, some of the fans shook his car and booed him.

He apologised for his celebration, but the final straw for both Tevez and Mascherano came when Leao refused to allow the pair to represent Argentina in a friendly in London. Mascherano got himself suspended in an attempt to take part, but the coach vetoed their involvement.

Tevez, through his agent, said he would never play for the club again while Leao remained in charge, and MSI moved both Tevez and Mascherano on to West Ham on the final day of the 2006 transfer window.

Hammer blow (2006)

Tevez made more of an early impact at Upton Park than Mascherano, but there were teething problems. After the signings, Hammers boss Alan Pardew tipped Tevez to become a "West Ham great" and said the player "took my breath away" during the 2006 World Cup, but warned he would quit if forced to play him.

The new arrivals didn't speak English and were lacking fitness after missing pre-season training, but Pardew said: "Adding these players has made it interesting. Having to deal with the problems that go with it will make me a better manager and this club stronger."

The club spent most of October in the relegation zone, with neither player doing much to enhance their reputations, and Tevez stormed out of Upton Park in late October when he was substituted during a much-needed 1-0 win over Sheffield United.

Reports claimed Tevez had played his last game for the club and Pardew said: "He showed no respect. I am disappointed with him. He has a lot of explaining to do."

However, Tevez outlasted the manager, who was sacked two weeks later, and promptly said Pardew had no idea how to manage foreign stars.

"It is strange really," Pardew said recently. "Tevez is such a big hero at West Ham, but when you look more closely, everything that we had started to do, started to achieve, changed - and not necessarily for the better - when he arrived.

"In the end, Tevez did brilliantly for the club and helped them stay up - fair play - but you might ask 'Where did the club's problems actually start that season?'"

The Carlos Tevez affair (2007-09)

Amid the murky third-party MSI arrangements over the deal that took Tevez to Upton Park, relegated Sheffield United took exception to West Ham's survival. Tevez had scored seven times for the club between March and the end of the season.

The Blades took the case to court, initially seeking to take the Hammers' place in the top-flight. At the end of a tortuous and torturous two-year legal battle, they accepted £20 million in compensation. The Premier League outlawed third-party ownership in 2008.

Seeing red (2007 and 2008)

Carlos Tevez, Alfio Basile
AssociatedCarlos Tevez exits after his red card against Colombia

Tevez was sent off twice in three games for Argentina during qualification for the 2010 World Cup.

He was dismissed after 25 minutes in a game in Colombia for kicking full-back Bustos off the ball in a game Argentina went on to lose 2-1.

Coach Alfio Basile, who ignored Tevez as he walked from the field, said after the game: "We played a very good first half, but the only place where you can't afford to be left with ten players is at altitude."

The following year, having served his suspension, he was sent off 31 minutes into a qualifier at home to Paraguay for two violent tackles.

Argentina managed to secure a 1-1 draw, but Basile was unimpressed.

"I have to speak to him in private," Basile said. "I have already spoken to him about the Colombia incident."

Splinters at United (2009)

Tevez was an important part of the United side that claimed the Premier League and Champions League in 2008, but the relationship turned sour the following year after the arrival of Dimitar Berbatov.

Sir Alex Ferguson acknowledged that one of Tevez, Berbatov or Wayne Rooney would have to be benched each game, but said the players understood, even if they weren't happy, and that it wasn't an "unmanageable" situation.

By November, there was talk Tevez would leave Old Trafford, with the fans chanting "Fergie, sign him up!" to try to convince the manager to make his deal permanent. By January, though, Ferguson was already talking of the possibility of him moving on, with the player growing restless in his role as a substitute.

"The coach started to overlook me," Tevez told TyC Sports in June 2009. "I did not feel supported after they signed Berbatov, because I was the man for the job he was bought to do."

He added: "My family knows how much I suffered at United. I could not arrive home after a match or a training session and forget my pain. It was not good and I transmitted all my sadness to them."

That he felt underappreciated was clear when, in May, he celebrated a goal against Manchester City by facing the directors' box and, amid the usual fans' chants, making an 'Are you listening?' gesture.

"I have not been treated as a member of the family," he said afterwards. "I do not feel wanted. The fans treat me like family but United have not signed me so they do not respect me as a footballer."

He was benched for the Champions League final before heading off to Manchester City. "You cannot argue with Alex Ferguson," Tevez said. "He is like the president of England. It is impossible, you always lose, but he made a mistake to leave me on the bench. That was the only final the team had lost since I had been at Manchester United."

The retiring type (2009-10)

In November 2009, four months after signing for City, Tevez said he was considering retirement. "I have a contract with Man City until 2014, but I am thinking of retiring if Argentina win the World Cup," he told Ole.

The quit threats have persisted. In August 2010, he said "there is only a little time remaining before I retire", while in October he said he had "the idea of quitting in my mind". In November, he said: "I don't want to play anymore. I'm tired of football, but also tired of people who work in football. I don't want to play anymore, and I'm talking seriously."

Neville the boot-licking moron (2010)

Carlos Tevez
GettyImagesCarlos Tevez and Gary Neville have shared a strained relationship for many years

Ahead of the Manchester derby in the Carling Cup semi-final first leg in January 2010, Gary Neville had said Tevez was not worth the £25 million he would have cost United. Tevez, after scoring in City's 2-1 win, gestured that Neville should talk less, prompting a single-fingered response from the United man.

In an ESPN interview, Tevez said: "My celebration was directed at Gary Neville. He acted like a complete sock-sucker [boot-licker] when he said I wasn't worth £25 million, just to suck up to the manager. I wondered to myself: 'What's the tarado [moron] talking about me for when I never said anything about him?'"

He added: "I don't like to get involved in conflict. I'm happy because I know what I am."

He said, though, that he was not entirely settled in England.

"The truth is that it's very, very hard for me to live here, so far away from my loved ones. I'm not exactly an example of how to learn English - I just can't get it into my head. I'm learning hardly anything, truth be told."

Peak practice (2010)

When Roberto Mancini replaced Mark Hughes and introduced a punishing new training schedule, Tevez and Craig Bellamy were at the front of the queue to talk to the papers about it.

"The players are not happy with this," Tevez said. "We are at the end of a long season, we have big matches, we are tired but there are still double training sessions, morning and afternoon. Then, the next day, we train for two hours. I do not understand."

He stressed that Mancini was the boss - "he is the coach and I am the player" - but also spoke out about the sacking of Hughes ("Did the directors think it through?") and said he "never understood the intention" of the club's infamous 'Welcome to Manchester' poster.

City were understood to be unhappy at the comments, particularly as they came during a week in which he had been asked not to speak to the media following the Neville debacle.

International relations (2010)

Tevez, disillusioned after Diego Maradona's exit, attacked Argentina Football Association president Julio Grondona in public over the whole affair in August.

"Mr Grondona said Maradona could do what he liked," he said. "There's a lot lacking in the AFA's word."

He added: "I say what I think and feel. I don't care if for the next match I'm in the national team or not. If (Grondona) holds a meeting and I can say it to him face to face, I'll do it."

The following month, Tevez said: "Every day, I feel further away from the national team and I don't know if I'll go to the 2014 World Cup. I'm tired. Tired of always being here, of fighting to be in the team."

Mancini bust-ups (2010)

Carlos Tevez angrily confronted Roberto Mancini after his substitution against Bolton
PA PhotosCarlos Tevez angrily confronted Roberto Mancini after his substitution against Bolton

Following his transfer request, Tevez stressed in his statement that his relationship with Mancini was not the issue, but the pair have had a difficult relationship.

Tevez was reported to have been upset at Mancini's insensitivity when he told the press he had "ordered" the player to return from Argentina after his daughter's premature birth in February, and the comments on the new training regime fuelled reports of disharmony.

Over the summer, though, Mancini awarded Tevez the captaincy - "all in the name of peace and progress," deposed skipper Kolo Toure explained - even if the Argentinean admitted to some "surprise" due to his poor English.

If the armband improved his performances on the pitch, it did little to increase his sense of responsibility towards "peace and progress" at Eastlands.

News of a dressing-room bust-up between Mancini and Tevez at half-time during the 2-1 win over Newcastle was leaked to the press, and Mancini later confirmed the row had taken place (and was "really ballsy").

In December, the row took place in public, as Tevez verbally assaulted his manager following his substitution in the 1-0 win over Bolton. Mancini said he was "happy about this" as it proved his desire, but it may yet prove to be Tevez' last action in a City shirt.