Manero

El Apache’s War

By: Alfonso Duro

It takes tons of character and determination to succeed on professional soccer’s world stage. And if you come from one of the poorest neighborhoods in Argentina, Fuerte Apache, it’s definitely harder. That’s the story of Carlos Tévez.

The Argentine attacker, aka El Apache, survived a near-death experience when he was only 10 months old, and then made his way through troublesome teenage years in which many of his friends ended up hooked on drugs, in prison or dead.

At 17 he was already a superstar in Boca Juniors, and quickly became one of the most loved players in the club’s history, along the lines of legends like Maradona or Riquelme—so much so that he is willingly breaking up his romance with Juventus’s faithful next year in order to make a much-awaited comeback. But before that, Tévez has big plans: winning his second Scudetto is a given, but he’s also aiming at the Champions League and (why not?) the 2015 Ballon d’Or.

A COMPETITIVE BEAST. Granted, Tévez has had to deal with his share of naysayers during his career, but no one can deny that he has also been perhaps one of the most underrated players of his generation.

Wherever he has played, El Apache has become a star, including his brief spell at Corinthians, where Timão fans became enamored with his style and his yearning to win every single match.

Not surprisingly, another competitive beast like Cristiano Ronaldo has always admired the edge Tévez brought to any and all teams he has suited up for, which has made him essential, both for his clubs and for his national team, despite the fact he was never the popular type.

A ONE-MAN SHOW IN TURIN. Since his arrival in Juventus last summer, Carlos Tévez has shown the best he can offer—even after recently turning 31.

Throughout his years in European soccer, El Apache has always been part of great ensembles, be it at Manchester United or Manchester City, he shared locker rooms with the top stars on the market, but this all changed in Turin.

Juventus is a great squad, whose strength rests on the solidity of the group of players that make it up. There are great players like Pogba or Vidal, and even Andrea Pirlo, but only one star, and Tévez has fully embraced that fact.

Perhaps that’s the reason why, in 2015, the Argentine has taken it upon himself to carry the weight of the squad on the attacking end, and his performances have not let anyone down.

Since early this year, Tévez’s playing level has been on par with that of Messi and Ronaldo. He has single-handedly kept Juventus atop in Serie A and got them through to the quarterfinals of the Champions League with an impressive performance against Borussia Dortmund.

Yet, Tévez is a pragmatist, and understands his battle is nothing but an uphill. With Serie A in a serious decline in the last five years, and Spain’s La Liga and England’s Premier League stealing all the headlines, the fighting chance El Apache has for the 2015 Ballon d’Or is slim, especially considering he has only a few months left at Juve. But being used to fight for survival his entire life, Tévez wants to leave nothing on the table before departing from European soccer.

Although it may be unthinkable to go against the likes of Messi and Ronaldo, if someone can do it, it’s Carlos Tévez.

Alfonso Duro is a Spanish freelance writer. When he's not managing Google's agency in the United Arab Emirates (his current job), chances are he's watching and writing about soccer.