Carlos Tevez reborn at Boca Juniors after China nightmare

Carlos Tevez, at the age of 34, is back in the only place he truly feels he belongs; pulling on the blue and yellow of Boca Juniors and living in his beloved Buenos Aires.

He has never been happy away from this city and it now seems that he is back for good, ready to finish his career exactly where it started.

On Wednesday night, his side will take on arch-rivals River Plate. In a superclasico to decide the Supercopa Argentina, Boca will be looking to secure the first trophy of what could become a golden year for the club and its star man.

Boca Juniors v San Martin de San Juan - Superliga 2017/18

When Tevez left Juventus and came back for a second spell at Boca in 2015, it appeared he would remain there until the day he decided to hang up his boots. An astronomical offer from Shanghai Shenhua, however, was too good to refuse and tempted Tevez to move away once more.

Despite reportedly taking an entourage of 30 – including his golf coach – with him to China, Carlitos was not content and failed to live up to expectations. Shortly after taking over last September, Shenhua head coach Wu Jingui accused Tevez of being too “overweight” to play.

So, after just 20 appearances and four goals in Shanghai, he pocketed what he had earned (which averaged out at a cool £8 million per goal, if reports are to be believed) and scuttled back to Buenos Aires and Boca.

Tevez has never been one to do things by half measures. On the pitch, he storms around like a hurricane, pursuing and harassing the opposition and leaving havoc in his wake. This cyclonic style is what inspires so much adulation from those on the terraces; fans identify with him for the dogged determination he shows. It is, if they had his skill, just what they would do for their team.

Off the pitch, he conducts himself in exactly the same way, which has often caused the polar opposite of emotional responses. There aren’t too many City fans who would tell you that they weren’t glad to see the back of him when he went to Juventus, and not many United followers who feel positively about the Argentine after that infamous ‘Welcome to Manchester’ poster.


Back in the city where he was born, there was never any chance that Tevez would change his ways. It may only be two months since he got off the plane, but ‘El Apache’ has wasted no time in making headlines for all the right reasons on the pitch and a variety of unfortunate ones off it.

One of Tevez’s first ports of call when he arrived back in Argentina was the barrio of Fuerte Apache, the place where he grew up and that bestowed that nickname upon him.

The moniker is not the only mark he carries from his formative years in one of Buenos Aires’ most dangerous neighbourhoods: the scars on his neck were caused by burns sustained in a domestic accident there when he was 10 months old, and that never-say-die attitude was nurtured in the area’s brutal street kickabouts.

On his return to his old stomping grounds he took his only son, Lito, along with him. When asked why during a subsequent television interview, he replied, “[At home, it’s only] his mother, his grandparents, he’s the only boy. If I do not take him to the neighborhood to get a bit of beating, he might turn out limp wristed.” Understandably, the homophobic intimations of the comments caused quite a stir in the press.

Banfield v Boca Juniors - Superliga 2017/18

During the same discussion, he also told the audience that he regarded his jaunt in the Far East with Shanghai Shenhua as a “holiday”, words which did not go down well with the directors or fans of the club he had just left.

Tevez has found time to opine on an ongoing political standoff, too, drawing further unwanted media attention. The popularity of Argentine President Mauricio Macri has plummeted in recent weeks owing to a high inflation rate and tax rises, which has inspired fans of a number of teams to chant anti-Macri songs on the terraces.

Tevez rushed to the President’s defence, saying that he did “not understand the insults directed at Macri.” His support of the politician, however, is unsurprising when you consider that Macri was the President of Boca Juniors as they won the Copa Libertadores in 2003, the tournament which launched Tevez’s career.

On the pitch, meanwhile, he has got off to a barnstorming start, scoring three and providing two assists in his first six league matches.


Inevitably, given his status as a national idol in Argentina, this hot streak has brought with it calls for his inclusion in Jorge Sampaoli’s squad for this summer’s World Cup.

Even Diego Maradona himself has got in on the act, telling Argentine newspaper La Nacion that “We are scratching around in the dirt looking for a number nine, one that will overrun [the opposition]. Carlitos has the sacred fire, [it’s] contagious.”

Tevez, who has not worn the Albiceleste jersey since 2015, told ESPN that, “I'm working to be the best version of myself. If that leads the coach of the national team to see me as I want to be seen, I will have much more chance of being [in the squad].”

Given the embarrassment of riches that Sampaoli has to choose from in attacking positions, and Tevez’s fairly poor international record, it is unlikely that he will make it to Russia.


He will, though, have his focus firmly set on helping Boca achieve what would be an impressive double crown, as they look to triumph in both Argentina’s domestic Primera Division and the Copa Libertadores, South America’s version of the Champions League.

At home, Boca are eight points clear of Talleres at the top of the table after Saturday’s 2-1 win over Tigres and, with only eight games to go, they look set to claim the title with gas still in the tank. That leaves the Libertadores, a huge challenge but one which this Boca side, replete with talent, is more than prepared for.

Before all that, however, there is the small matter of the Supercopa against their sworn enemy.

Carlitos, no doubt, will do everything in his power to make sure he starts the year as he means to go on: getting one over on his rivals and thrusting a trophy into the night sky.

Argentina Football
Carlos Tevez

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