Carlos Tevez is one of the most fascinating figures in modern football history, a man who played the game like he’d been possessed by a rogue spirit, constantly courted controversy, and still inspires love and hate in equal measure. His career has been a wild ride.
Tevez announced his retirement from professional football in early June after a professional career that spanned two decades. He has not been idle for long, however, having already been appointed manager of Rosario Central in his native Argentina.
With that in mind, we have decided to look back at the eight stages of Tevez’s career since his big move to Manchester United back in 2007.
Tevez came through at his beloved Boca Juniors in Buenos Aires and quickly made himself a hero. He was a representative of Boca’s working-class fanbase on the pitch and a tireless attacker who led them to the Copa Libertadores and Intercontinental Cup.
He inevitably caught the eye of foreign clubs, however, and moved first to Brazil with Corinthians – where he won a league title – and then to West Ham in one of the most notorious transfers in Premier League history.
His huge break – the move to send him into the realm of the footballing superstars – came in 2007, though. After he’d helped West Ham stay in the Premier League, Manchester United swooped.
Though United fans might not like to admit it owing to what followed, Tevez was truly brilliant for a while. In 2007-08, alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney, Tevez was part of the finest attacking line-up Old Trafford has seen since the Holy Trinity of Denis Law, George Best and Bobby Charlton.
United lifted the Premier League and Champions League trophies and their forward trio bagged 79 goals between them.
The following season, though, things started to unravel.
United’s weird loan deal came under the spotlight and questions emerged about El Apache’s future. Come the summer of 2009, Sir Alex Ferguson decided that the deal for Tevez with the shady folk who controlled his playing rights was not worth doing.
“The fans quite rightly have their heroes and I was happy to go along with the deal as long as it was the right one but, quite simply, he is not worth £25million,” Sir Alex said.
Tevez was gone, but he’d not be going very far.
‘Welcome to Manchester’
No sooner had Fergie rejected the Tevez move than the nouveau riche noisy neighbours came in and took full advantage, signing Tevez and erecting the infamous ‘Welcome to Manchester’ billboard.
Fergie raged, saying that the marketing stunt was “stupid and arrogant,” and that City were “a small club with a small mentality.”
It gained City worldwide attention, though, and for a while, the signing of Tevez looked as clever as the publicity stunt they’d pulled just after it.
Tevez managed 29 goals in his first campaign and 23 in his second, elevating City to another level and firing them to a third-place Premier League finish and FA Cup glory in 2011, ending a 35-year trophy drought.
Again, though, things would fall apart.
Possibly the most controversial spell of Tevez’s career – and that really is saying something – came in the third season of his spell at City.
Tevez’s relationship with manager Roberto Mancini started to deteriorate badly (to be fair to Tevez, he’s not the only person who can say that) – and it came to a head when Carlos Tevez refused to come on as a substitute when City were 2-0 down in a Champions League game against Bayern Munich.
It was now Mancini’s turn to spiral into a Tevez-induced fit of rage. “He can never play,” the Italian said post-match. “If we want to improve like a team, like a squad, Carlos can’t play with us. With me, no. He’s finished.”
Tevez went AWOL for three months, worked on his golf swing in Argentina and, while he was at it, used an interview to say that Manchester was a “small and rainy” city with “only two restaurants”. Charming.
He returned eventually, sort of forgiven for his sins. He bagged a hat-trick again Norwich, earned a Premier League winner’s medal that season and stayed for another full season. But it was never the same after the Bayern game and he moved on again in 2013.
In England, Tevez is obviously best remembered for his spells on either side of the Manchester divide. Then people probably think about West Ham and his famous love for Boca, leaving his two seasons at Juventus as something of an afterthought.
They shouldn’t be.
It was the absolute peak of Juve’s Serie A hegemony years – the first under Antonio Conte, the second under Max Allegri – and Tevez had the bit between his teeth.
Just think about that team now. Chiellini, Barzagli and Bonnuci. Pirlo, Vidal and Pogba. Tevez and Llorente up top. It gives us shivers just thinking about it.
In that second campaign, Tevez was at his glorious, rabid best, winning the league and the Coppa Italia and leading the Old Lady to a Champions League final against Barcelona. She may have lost, but it does not diminish the Argentine striker’s brilliance.
He scored three times in the round of 16 in a 5-1 aggregate win over Borussia Dortmund and was unstoppable in the semi-final against Real Madrid, getting an assist for Alvaro Morata and scoring from the spot in the first leg at Juve progressed 3-2 on aggregate.
The final was to be Tevez’s last game in the Bianconeri though, as he headed home.
6 Years ago, today:
Champions League Semi Final.
Juventus 2-1 Real Madrid.
Allegri Masterclass 👏👏 pic.twitter.com/4PQaVyZ1s0
— Kamran Khan (@KammyJuventino) May 4, 2021
Back to Boca
The fairy-tale homecoming was complete and upon his arrival Boca president Daniel Angelici said: “It is a day of joy and great satisfaction.
“The return of Carlos Tevez in an extraordinary moment of his career is fantastic news for all partners and supporters of Boca and Argentine football. The presence of Carlos will give another leap in quality to the great squad we have.”
Angelici was right – it did give them a leap in quality and Boca went on to win a league and cup double, Tevez’s second of the calendar year and the fulfilment of a dream he had had since he was a child.
The second year back at Boca was less straightforward, however, and in December 2016 Tevez was tempted away.
“My love for the Boca shirt was always authentic and it doesn’t matter which shirt I wear, the blue and gold will always be tattooed onto me,” he said as he departed Boca for a second time.
“I want to say that I’m really going to miss [Boca] and announcing this news hurts a lot, but life carries on and I have to carry on.”
Still, despite the emotional connection, the offer of £615,000 a week was just too good to turn down and Tevez was off to the Chinese Super League.
The fact he never really wanted to go showed, however. Tevez was at best lacklustre, managing just four goals in 16 games as he struggled for fitness and form.
Just a year after signing the deal, Shanghai Shenhua terminated Carlitos’ contract, accusing him of being overweight, and he was back on the plane to Argentina faster than you could say ‘Una cerveza e dos empanadas, por favor.’
As Tevez’s idol Diego Maradona succinctly put it: “He went to China, filled up Santa’s sack with dollars and came back to Boca. Perfect.”
Back to Boca (again)
Tevez confirmed the suspicions of those who believed he hadn’t taken the Chinese top flight entirely seriously in a television interview just after arriving for a third spell at Boca.
When asked if criticism he’d received from the Shanghai Shenhua manager and chairman was fair, he said: “It’s fine because I was on holiday for seven months,” before adding: “As soon as I arrived in China, I already wanted to come back to Boca.”
Full marks for honesty.
This time, the Boca return was to prove more permanent.
Carlitos became Boca’s main man again and though he couldn’t repeat the Libertadores success of his early years, he won two more Argentinian league titles and, fittingly, the Copa Diego Armando Maradona in 2020.
After Boca lost on penalties in the semi-final of the 2021 Copa de la Liga, Tevez announced that he would be leaving the club for the final time.
“Today is one of the saddest days of my life, but I am happy with my decision,” he said. “I’m not 100% mentally so I feel I have to step away and that is what I am doing.
“I’m in good shape but Boca needs me bringing my 120%. I can’t give that to the club today. I didn’t even have time to mourn my father after he died [three months ago]. I came back to play right away… Now, I need time away from the pitch to be with my family.”
Carlitos the boss
At the time he left Boca, Tevez said he could make a comeback as a player, but that never materialised and in June 2022, Tevez announced his retirement. Less than a month later, he was installed as the new manager of Rosario Central.
It is a relatively big job and a difficult one as Rosario Central have struggled badly of late. They finished bottom of their group in the first phase of this year’s Primera and are currently 23rd of 28th in the second phase table with four points from four games.
Will Carlitos be the man to turn it around? We have absolutely no idea. But we can’t wait to find out.