Before Lionel Messi became the greatest soccer player in the world, Argentine hinchas had a different favorite: Carlos Tévez. This was back when people felt like Messi “no sentía la camiseta” of the national team the way their other players did. Tévez, on the other hand, sang the national anthem before games with passion, and unlike Messi he didn’t leave Argentina early on in his career. People loved Tevez because came up through the club ranks to play for Argentina’s first-division Boca Juniors, just like Diego Maradona.
He was a hard man to criticize.
But six years later, a lot has changed for Argentina’s two most prominent strikers. The country is in Messi’s thrall, and Tévez’s belated maturity has been developing mostly off the Albiceleste’s radar.
The Apache’s seven-year stint in the Premier League concluded with a string of petulant episodes. Manchester United fans have never forgiven their former striker for the acrimonious nature of his departure to rivals Manchester City in 2009. A couple of years later, in September of 2011, Manchester City fans got the same taste of bitterness when he refused coach Roberto Mancini’s request to come on as a substitute against Bayern Munich in Champions League game.
After that, Tévez was in trouble. People thought his career at the highest level of European leagues was over before he’d even hit 30, and expected him to return to his boyhood club Boca Juniors. It didn’t matter that up until then Tévez had won everything you can win: League titles, domestic cups, a gold medal in the Olympics, the Copa Libertadores and the Champions League. He was a player who rocked the boat.
After failing to secure a transfer – and a long break playing golf – Tévez came back to Citizens and resumed training in February of 2012. A year later, he moved to Juventus, where he took Series A by storm on the field with a pair of Calcio titles. On La vecchia signora he is one of the best; he plays deeper on the field now, just behind Spaniards Alvaro Morata or Fernando Llorente. We also see him move up front as a “false-nine,” to lead the pressing, but this has also somewhat restricted his attacking presence in the box.
The Tévez of today is nothing like the one who got his start on Boca Juniors or who played free on Corinthians in Brazil with no tactical discipline.
If we a look back on his career, it’s evident that his attitude has changed. He’s more disciplined tactically and emotionally, as though someone finally made him realize his attitude problems were canceling out his natural skills.
With “the Old Lady” in the semifinals of UEFA Champions League, Tévez has changed his mischief-maker reputation to that of a man who can be trusted not to upset the status quo.
Carlitos finally grew up to be Tévez.