With the lavish lifestyles football players lead, it is often difficult to remember that these men are, at the most basic level, human beings. Contained within their lifestyles come the pleasantries that separate them from us mere mortals; endless money, gigantic country mansions, flash cars and even flasher women. But with reports coming out of Manchester City that Carlos Tevez is unhappy because he is homesick, is it time to put our differences to one side and emotionally empathise with the multi-millionaires?
Of course after the whole Wayne Rooney affair it is exceedingly difficult to take footballers’ personal emotions into consideration. Seemingly struggling both on and off the pitch after newspaper revelations about his private life, Rooney’s desire to make a fresh start of it seemed vaguely warranted on a human level, and unless you are a Manchester United fan, even his jibe about United’s lack of ambition seemed somewhat plausible. But in the dramatic U-Turn made by Rooney and the fact his decision to stay was lubricated by an obscene amount of cash, any sympathy for the England international dissipated into the cool autumnal air above Old Trafford. So is Tevez merely ‘pulling a Rooney’?
It can certainly be argued that Tevez is to Manchester City what Rooney is to United; talismanic, passionate, crowd-pleasing (not sure if this is applicable to Rooney anymore though) and a proven match-winner. Tevez has the power Rooney does, but in the blue half of Manchester, and claiming that he is homesick, could, in this current climate of cynicism, be construed as; “I will leave if I’m not giving a substantial pay-rise”.
However, there are several things to be taken into consideration when it comes to Carlos Tevez; the first being that his longing for Argentina is a fairly long-standing issue, with Roberto Mancini handing him the captaincy over the summer, seemingly in a move to placate the striker who recently stated that he is “not enjoying the life of a footballer”. In his apparent disillusionment with the game Tevez has looked to home and his family to eradicate his unhappiness.
The second consideration must be that this recent revelation about Tevez’s yearning for his homeland has not been ‘leaked’ by the press, but has come in the form of his team-mate Roque Santa Cruz, and unless the Paraguayan is doubling as Tevez’s agent (which isn’t beyond the realms of possibility considering how far down the pecking order at Eastlands Santa-Cruz is) this seems like a genuine concern. Speaking to Spanish radio station Cadena Sur, Santa Cruz said;
“He wants to be among his people, who are in Argentina. Your heart goes out to his family. His siblings and his daughters are there … when you feel that your homeland is calling you back, you could end up giving up everything to return. Still, I think he will see it out and fulfil his contract with City before returning home.”
A third consideration is that Carlos Tevez appears to be slightly different to other footballers. Tevez has become a cult figure at every club he has played at in England and the 26 year-old has been at the centre of more than his fair share of controversy during his tenure in the Premier League. Who can forget his topless, albeit slightly rotund (apparently due to his propensity to frequent the South American steak houses of east London) body being engulfed by a mass of jubilant West Ham fans after his goal against Spurs? Or his strike at Old Trafford that kept the Hammers up? Or his cupped ear gesture at Manchester United? Tevez is treated like a hero at the clubs he has played for because he paints himself as a people’s champion.
Another point to note is his acrimonious departure from Manchester United. Although like many footballers, Tevez sought pastures new, his reasoning was very odd. He didn’t appear to move for the money, although clearly this was a factor, and it wasn’t a move borne out of a desire for glory. Tevez moved from Manchester United because he didn’t feel his job was secure enough. Whether Sir Alex Ferguson would have offered him a long-term contract over the summer of 2009 will never be known, but Tevez wanted assurances long before his contract was up, and in Manchester City, he found those assurances, securing a contract until 2014. In other words, Tevez may have the riches of his footballing contemporaries at City, but has got there by slightly different means.
With the importance of Tevez to Manchester City, if the murmurings are true, the club may have to move quickly to persuade the 26 year-old to stay as they are unlikely to allow him to go for free in 2014. So with cynicism abound in the world of football, is Tevez ‘pulling a Rooney’? With the diminutive Argentinean’s previous record, I wouldn’t count on it.