BUENOS AIRES (AFP) – Veteran Argentina great Carlos Tevez announced on Friday he was quitting Boca Juniors and would no longer play football in his homeland, but stopped short of officially retiring.
The 37-year-old said he was leaving Boca, his beloved home club – he said “my blood isn’t red, it’s blue and yellow” – to spend more time with his family.
“My career in Argentina is finished. I always said the only club I would ever play for (here) is Boca, without a doubt,” said Tevez at a press conference at the club’s head office.
The former Manchester United, Manchester City and Juventus forward lost his adoptive father Segundo Tevez in February after he contracted Covid-19 at age 58.
“Boca asks you to give the maximum and mentally I’m not in a condition to do so. I didn’t even have time to mourn my father and already I was playing again – that’s what Boca demands,” he said, breaking down in tears.
When asked if he could find a new club abroad, Tevez merely replied he didn’t know what he would do next.
“I never thought this moment would arrive, but I’m here to tell you that I won’t continue with the club. It’s not a goodbye to this shirt but a see you soon because I will always be here, just not as a player,” he said.
Boca president Jorge Ameal seemed unconvinced he would never see the “Apache” in a Boca shirt again.
“We’d like him to keep playing. For us, the ‘never again with Carlitos’ doesn’t exist,” he said.
Tevez’s contract runs until December but a clause allows him to end it six months early.
One of the most popular Argentine players of his era, Tevez is the latest of Boca’s great idols, a group that also includes Diego Maradona, Juan Roman Riquelme and Martin Palermo.
Born in the poor Buenos Aires neighbourhood of Fort Apache – from where he gets his nickname – Tevez started his career at Boca as a 17-year-old in 2001, winning the Argentine Primera Division and Copa Libertadores two years later.
In 2005, he began a 10-year hiatus away from Boca, first with Corinthians in Brazil, where he won the Brazilian league, and then at West Ham in England.
A dream move to Man United followed in 2007, where he won back-to-back Premier League titles and the Champions League before making a shock switch across town to City, where he won the league again in 2012.
A move to Juventus brought two Serie A crowns before he returned home in 2015.
He left for a year in 2017 to take up an astonishing financial offer from Shanghai Shenhua in the Chinese Super League – making him one of the best paid players in the world – before returning home again.
His second and third spells with Boca would bring another four Argentine titles.
He played 76 times for his country, scoring 13 goals but never won anything despite reaching the Copa America final three times.
He played in two World Cups and was part of the Argentine under-23 team that won Olympic gold in 2004.