Players like him are few and far between - immensely talented yet totally committed and willing to give 100 per cent to the cause, no matter what. Excuse the tired old cliché, but seemed willing to die for the cause.
But he was also a fans' favourite because he is able to relate to them, to empathise with them: his apologetic gesture to West Ham fans when banging two past them last season brought him widespread admiration - and not just from the Hammers faithful. He was pure class, that Carlos Tevez. In every respect.
So what has happened? Why is it so difficult to sympathise with him anymore? Because it turns out he's just like most other modern-day footballers: greedy, disloyal and self-obsessed. And not very classy at all.
The signs have been there for some time, but Tevez has largely got away with it due to circumstance.His first move once settled in England, from West Ham to Manchester United, was entirely understandable. Some would consider playing for United to be the pinnacle of their careers, so who wouldn't want to make that giant stride forward. Hammers fans certainly did not begrudge him his chance despite the legal wrangling over the move, given his complex circumstances surrounding his ownership.
His second transfer, from United to bitter rivals City, might not have been accepted by United fans, but it was by the wider football community. With United failing to stump up the cash required to buy him themselves, he was forced out of the club.
His decision to head across town raised eyebrows, but the truth is that City were - and still are - an exciting option for any player, and not just for the money. He was well within his rights to move there as a free agent, so he did. Good luck to him. But it is this latest transfer story that has turned opinion against him. Because, in short, it's madness.
There is no plausible reason for him to hand in a transfer request midway through December, despite his and his agent's bleatings. Tevez's Mr 10 per cent Kia Joorabchian has claimed his client is moving on because City "broke promises" they made in the summer, and categorically not because his reported demands for an improved contract have been rejected.
That's difficult to believe, considering what those promises may have been. If more money elsewhere wasn't his motivation - although the jury is still very much out on that - then what else could it be? What are these "broken promises"?
If Tevez was assured City would make a real statement of intent in the summer transfer window, the club emphatically backed up their word with a £125 million spending spree that brought six top class players to Eastlands.
Perhaps City made undertakings about Tevez's family, and the time he is allowed to travel back to Argentina to spend with them. Yet again, City have said they are "sensitive to Carlos' personal circumstances" and even granted him special dispensation to take leave overseas following his recent suspension.
Other than money, the only other plausible explanation as to what these promises may be lies with the club's management, or rather what Tevez thinks of it.Rumours of a rift between Tevez and Roberto Mancini have been rife for a while now, and the pair clashed very publicly when the Argentine was substituted in the recent win over Bolton.
Perhaps Tevez was unhappy with Mancini being in charge of the team. If so, who is he to demand assurances about how the team is run? He is a player, admittedly a pivotal one, but nevertheless a player. He has not right to think he can dictate how his team is managed.
It's not clear what is worse - demanding a move to supplement an already full-to-bursting wallet or wanting to leave because he can't have his own way concerning the running of the team.What is clear is the identity of the man who broke whatever promises were made.
City's chief executive Garry Cook has taken an absolute pasting from Joorabchian, who said Cook "thinks he is bigger than Carlos Tevez". How dare he? Remember that old chestnut about no one player being bigger than a club? Not anymore. Carlos Tevez is. He's huge. Or at least he thinks he is.
He returned to training yesterday and vowed to continue to give his all for City, having had his request rightly rejected. No doubt he'll do just that, and in all likelihood City fans will, like their rival United fans are beginning to with Wayne Rooney, forgive and forget his moment of madness.
But, as with Rooney, his reputation has been tarnished among true football fans, regardless of what he may go on to achieve on the pitch in the future.
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