In Maradona's footsteps

From Boca to Corinthians in Brazil to West Ham in the Barclays English Premiership, Argentina star Carlos Tevez's moves have confounded his fans, writes Andy Hampson.

An outstanding World Cup striker, Carlos Tevez made a shock move to modest Barclays English Premier League side West Ham this year despite being linked with a number of Europe's top clubs. Hailed by some as the new Diego Maradona, Tevez is one of the biggest names in Argentinian football and left his home country because of the pressures brought by suffocating publicity.

Tevez grew up in the rough neighbourhood of Ejercito de los Andes in Buenos Aires, an area renowned — and avoided — for its violence, drugs and poverty. He and his four siblings had a deprived upbringing with Tevez learning his football playing in the streets.

Tevez's talent was obvious and the All Boys club spotted him at the age of eight. From there he was picked up by Boca Juniors as a 13-year-old. His development escalated and he scored 70 goals at youth level before attracting global glances with his performances at the 2001 Under-17 World Championship.

Tevez followed that with a first-team debut for Boca later that year against Talleres de Cordoba and over the next three years both the player and the club dominated Argentinian football.

In 2003 Boca won the Argentina championship, the Copa Libertadores and the Intercontinental Cup while Tevez picked up the country's player of the year award. He repeated that feat the following year and then — almost single-handedly — led his country to Olympic gold.

With this came a huge increase in Tevez's personal profile and after the novelty wore off, he found having his personal life subjected to heavy media scrutiny hard to live with. It was then he decided to make the move — almost unthinkable for a national star — to Brazil to join Corinthians. It was the biggest move in South American history and followed a tie-up between Corinthians and the company Media Sports Investment, who later acquired the rights to the player himself and engineered his move to West Ham.

It took time for Tevez to settle at Corinthians but he eventually won the sceptical fans over and became an undoubted star. He was the inspiration behind the 2005 title success and was named the fans' player of the year.

He shone at the World Cup in Germany this summer, particularly catching the eye in a 6-0 win over Serbia and Montenegro and a drawn group match against Holland. After that, he was linked with the likes of Real Madrid, Arsenal and Manchester United and speculation increased after he began to refuse to play for Corinthians.

The West Ham move was a surprise and sent shockwaves through football, with many questions being asked over whether the London club actually owned the player. Already there is speculation his stay at Upton Park will not be a long one and the club is merely being used by MSI as a vehicle to increase his value on the European market.

Tevez has a daughter — called Florencia — who was born at a time when he had separated from his wife Vanessa. The birth actually came as Tevez was embarking on a whirlwind romance with the model Natalia Fassi. The publicity — and negative comment — the situation attracted was something he struggled to handle and he clashed with reporters and photographers on a number of occasions. It eventually led to his quitting of Argentina for Brazil.

Tevez also ran into a number of problems on his arrival at Corinthians. His salary was much higher than any of his team-mates and this led to resentment, accusations of preferential treatment and a fight with defender Marquinos at the training ground that was caught on camera. When this was broadcast on TV, he was again scrutinised and he did not help himself by picking up a ban for swearing at a referee and then making ill-advised sexist comments about female officials.

He also has a scar on the side of his face after being scalded in a domestic accident as a child.

Personal security was a serious pre-occupation for Tevez in South America. When at Corinthians he travelled around in an armour-plated chauffeur-driven black Mercedes 4x4.

Tevez lived in fortified accommodation in Sao Paulo, his residence being on a luxury estate with two 24-hour security guard houses. The estate had many facilities including a swimming pool, gymnasium and small football pitch.

FACTFILE Name: Carlos Tevez Position: Striker Club: West Ham DOB: 05/02/84 Argentina Caps: 27 Argentina Goals: 4 Argentina debut: v Ecuador, March 2004. Moment to remember

Tevez shone as Argentina thrashed Serbia and Montenegro 6-0 in the World Cup group stages this summer, scoring his side's fifth goal. It was such a classy and clinical performance that Argentina were immediately installed as tournament favourites.

Moment to forget

Yet the South Americans peaked too soon. They went on to reach the quarterfinals but were pegged back to 1-1 by hosts Germany in Berlin and then slumped out on penalties. It was a huge anti-climax for such a talented team.

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