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CARLOS TEVEZ TALKS: On his United future, the West Ham affair, Maradona...

24 February 2009 02:22
For an hour he speaks Spanish and for an hour the questions are directed not to him but to his interpreter. How does Carlos feel about this? What does Carlos think about that? And then, after an hour, Carlos smiles and says: 'Carlos Tevez does speak English you know.'

He does, however, prefer to conduct such interviews in his native tongue and it is easy to understand why. The issues Tevez wants to address are sensitive and he wants to express himself as clearly and as candidly as he can. He wants to speak his mind but he does not want to talk himself into trouble. Not when Sir Alex Ferguson is his manager.

He wants to express his views on 'The Carlos Tevez Affair'; he wants to try to clarify his feelings about Manchester United and the decision he will soon have to make when it comes to his future. Will he remain at Old Trafford beyond the end of this season or will he be playing elsewhere? He certainly struggles with the fact that, in his mind, he sits on the United bench too often.

He wants to explain why the appointment of Diego Maradona as the manager of Argentina is nothing like as insane as it seems. He even wants to explain why he once declined the offer of cosmetic surgery.

When Tevez was a child, he spent two months in intensive care after an accident involving boiling water left him first with third-degree burns and then scars that run from his right ear, down his neck and across his chest.

Boca Juniors, the club he joined at 17, offered to pay for surgery to have the scars cosmetically improved. But Tevez said no. 'These scars are part of who I am,' he says. 'They are part of my story and I am comfortable with myself and how I look. That is more important than anything and I told them that. It was a generous offer but I was not interested.'

  'I don't ever want to sit on  the bench. I want to play,  always. I have not been dropped because I have  done anything wrong and  that is what is difficult' More generous offers are sure to soon follow. From Real Madrid, perhaps from Inter Milan. Offers that might yet lure him away from Old Trafford when first team football is no longer guaranteed.

The arrival of Dimitar Berbatov has had a significant impact on Tevez, leaving him among the substitutes for three of the four Barclays Premier League encounters that United have so far contested against their main rivals this season. He started against Liverpool back in September but has been omitted by Ferguson for the trips to Chelsea and Arsenal and missed out again last month when Chelsea travelled to the north-west.

Winner: Tevez (far left) celebrates with his United team-mates after victory against Chelsea in the European Cup final last May



His greatest admirer thinks it ridiculous. 'Carlos Tevez should sit on the bench for no one,' says Maradona. But Ferguson would appear to disagree, opting for a forward line of Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo and Berbatov when all four are available.

        HAVE YOUR SAY.     Do you want your team to sign Carlos Tevez? Are Manchester United mad to delay on signing Carlos Tevez? The champions are yet to agree a deal and the striker's future is in doubt as his loan deal runs down. Should your club jump the queue to swoop for the Argentina star?



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'I am not going to comment on Maradona,' says Tevez. 'If that is his opinion, then fair enough. I can only comment on my feelings and, like any player, I don't ever want to sit on the bench. I want to play, always.

'Last season I played. Last season I was the second top scorer at the club and last season we won the Champions League and the Premier League. And everyone said I was playing well.

'But this season I have been benched and I find that hard to understand when I am not playing badly. I realise another player has arrived and I realise that this is why I am sometimes not in the team. But I have not been dropped because I have done anything wrong and that is what is difficult.

'I will continue to fight. It is in my nature to fight and I will continue to try and make the best of every opportunity I do get in the hope that I will not be benched again.'

Best buds: Tevez and Diego Maradona embrace after the 2004 Athens Olympics

When it comes to his future, the situation is a complicated one. What amounted to a two-year loan period at United will end in May and it is then up to United to decide if they want to buy him from his owners. A fee in excess of £20million has been mentioned, with a bidding war likely to take the figures even higher.   

 'For the fans of Manchester  I will always give 100 per cent.  But at this point I am not sure  if I will stay, not least because  it is not just my decision'   'From my point of view, you don't make a decision just because you are sitting on the bench,' says Tevez, 'even if I would like to think I am good enough to play for any team in the world.

'You have to analyse the whole situation, the whole experience of being at a football club, of living in a city. I have to reflect on how I feel about living in Manchester. I have to ask if my family are happy here.

'Obviously, I want first-team football. But I have to consider all the issues. I have to consider the whole experience of being at the club before I even begin to make a decision.

'Right now, it is only my intention to give everything, in every game. For the shirt of Manchester I will always give 100 per cent and for the fans of Manchester I will always give 100 per cent. They have been very good to me. They have taken me into their hearts. They even sing 'Argentina' to me.

Welcome to England: Tevez signs on at West Ham with Javier Mascherano and the then Upton Park boss Alan Pardew in 2006

'He knows the significance of this, given the history of the countries. Asked about this, he says only: 'I am just a footballer. But I appreciate the support I receive and I would never want to let down the supporters.

'I do have a great feeling about Manchester United and, in particular, the fans. I have a great affection for them and they have made the feeling phenomenal.

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'But at this point I am not sure if I will stay, not least because it is not just my decision. It is up to Manchester to decide if they want to keep me — and I have to decide what is right for my career, for my future.'

The future, he nevertheless insists, can wait. 'Right now I am only really focused on the four trophies we are trying to win,' he says. 'At United we are all part of an amazing team.

Changing sides: Carlos Tevez scores at Old Trafford for West Ham

'We are fighting for every win, home and away, just as we were last season when we won the trophies.

'It's very difficult to compare Manchester United in the Premier League to any teams from South America — even to teams like Brazil and Argentina.

'Physically and technically, they are very different. In South America, particularly with kids, they focus so much on technique. But, right now, Manchester United are probably the best team in the world, tactically and technically, and that is very exciting.'

Ferguson once declared 'you can never have too many strikers' and his desire to keep Tevez must be strong.

It is not just the considerable talent of the South American that will impress United's manager but his remarkable tenacity. Not just his ability to score goals but his ability to acquire trophies. At 25, Tevez has won just about everything: a Copa Libertadores; an Olympic gold medal; the English, European and world crowns with United; not to mention a host of other titles, first with Boca and then Corinthians before moving to the Premier League.

 'I have a siesta every  afternoon, for two or three  hours, and it means I am  at my best, at my strongest,  for every game' His levels of energy are extraordinary, his spirit something that Maradona regards as an inspiration to others. When Argentina's Olympic team returned from Athens in 2004, Maradona greeted Tevez with a kiss on the lips.

He declared Tevez an 'Argentine prophet for the 21st century', and now uses the 'spirit' Tevez possesses to motivate his team. 'Your spirit will win us the game,' Maradona told Tevez before last week's friendly with France in Marseille. Argentina won 2-0.

Maradona said much the same thing before an encounter between Corinthians and River Plate.

Desperate to see Corinthians beat the arch rivals of his beloved Boca, Maradona attended a team meeting at the Corinthians hotel and urged them to follow the example of the young forward he so admires. 'You must win,' said Maradona. 'But to win you must fight like Carlos Tevez.'

Earning his stripes: Tevez lines up for Argentina against Mexico at the Copa America in Venezuela in 2007



Tevez appreciates the support he receives from his great hero but sees nothing particularly special in his all-action approach. 'I think I have been blessed with some natural ability in terms of my stamina,' he says. 'But a major part of it is down to the hard work I put in and the way I look after myself.

'For me, it is as much about diet and rest as it is about working hard in training. It is about getting enough sleep. I have a siesta every afternoon, for two or three hours, and it means I am at my best, at my strongest, for every game. It is always in my mind to prepare myself so that I can perform at my optimum.

 'Why should it be the Carlos  Tevez affair? It is West Ham's  affair. This is not my problem and it was not my fault' 'Football today is very different, very physical and very fast. It is all attack, defend, attack, defend. Even as a striker, you have to defend, otherwise you leave your team-mates exposed to danger.

'To be the best team in the world, the strikers have to defend, they have to work. That is my philosophy and it is the philosophy of Manchester United. We always give everything.'

It is because he gave everything that the supporters of West Ham remain so fond of him. No matter that, because of the controversy that has erupted over the third-party agreement that existed when he played for the Hammers, Sheffield United are now attempting to secure more than £50m in compensation from his former club. He is still adored at Upton Park, as he discovered when he returned there with United earlier this month.

That's for you: Tevez celebrates the birth of daughter Florencia while playing for Corinthians in Brazil

'As far as I am concerned, why should it be the Carlos Tevez affair? It is West Ham's affair. This is not my problem and it was not my fault. I did nothing wrong. I came to England to play football and for West Ham and for Manchester United I have tried to do that to the best of my ability.

'If West Ham have not submitted the documents correctly, that is down to them. It was nothing I did but I have found myself caught in the middle of it.

'I gave my all for West Ham. I scored some important goals and as I discovered when I went back there the other week it is still appreciated by the fans. They don't blame me for anything that has happened. If the registration was wrong, that is down to the officials involved in doing the paperwork.'

For Tevez, it is only about the football and it is when the discussion returns to football — and in particular to Maradona — that the eyes once again light up.  

 'You can't compare Maradona to Ferguson. But they share  that great hunger to win -   and they both have that aura  that great men possess'   'Maradona will be a great coach,' he says. 'He has the same charisma now that he had as a player and the group have responded so well to him.

'People around the world might have been amazed by the decision to appoint him, but it was different for the people of Argentina, for the people who love him and admire him.

'We knew we had endured his problems; with his health, with everything. But in Argentina he is a hero to everyone and when we knew he had recovered and when he was given the job of coaching the national team, it was like he was back — and that meant so much to the people.

'You can't compare him to Sir Alex Ferguson. One manager has years and years of experience and one is just starting his career, but they share that great hunger to win — and they both have that aura that great men possess.'

Maradona would doubtless insist that Tevez has it, too.

VIDEO: Some classic Tevez.



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Source: Daily_Mail