Carlos Tevez: A brief but unforgettable Claret and Blue career
Was any stint with West Ham United ever as fleeting, yet endearing, as that of birthday boy Carlos Tevez, who turns 35 on 5 February.
Signed from Brazilian side Corinthians on deadline day in August 2006 alongside international compatriot Javier Mascherano, Tevez was voted Hammer of the Year in his only season with the Irons, establishing himself as a cult icon among the Claret and Blue faithful.
The striker’s only season at West Ham was a difficult one, both on and off the pitch, for the Irons, but Tevez’s contributions were certainly the brightest spark for West Ham, with the striker a huge reason behind their successful battle against relegation.
It took Tevez a little while to settle into life in east London, having made his debut in a 1-1 home draw against Aston Villa in September 2006. The forward’s first goal, an unforgettable free-kick against Tottenham Hotspur, came in March 2007, but it was Tevez’s joyous celebration that lives so memorably in the mind.
As the shot glanced off the underside of the crossbar and found the back of the net, Tevez turned and ran. A gallop turned into a sprint as the striker’s shirt was pulled from his body, and the West Ham No32 threw himself into the West Ham supporters. It was a moment of pure magic for both the forward and the fans that embraced him, and although the Irons would lose that thrilling game that day, an unbreakable bond was forged.
It would be the start of an immense run of form for Tevez, who would score seven goals in West Ham’s final ten games of the season. It was not a coincidence that the team would go on to win seven of them, including the final four, to complete a dramatic escape from relegation.
A cool penalty in a win over Blackburn Rovers was followed by a poacher’s finish against Middlesbrough. The South American then struck a sensational effort at home to Chelsea, before a brace versus Bolton Wanderers; another exquisite free-kick and a deft strike.
If Tevez’s first-ever West Ham goal is his most famous, then his last is not too far behind. An away contest at Premier League title winners Manchester United could have potentially meant trouble for Alan Curblishey’s Hammers, but Tevez was again on hand to fire the Irons to a famous victory, guaranteeing his team’s place in the Premier League.
With seven goals and five assists in his solitary season at West Ham, the 2007 Hammer of the Year’s time with the Irons was brief, but it was one that left a lasting impression on supporters everywhere.