On the 6th of January 2007, West Ham United beat Brighton 3-0 in the FA Cup. It was p*ssing down with rain and it was a largely forgettable cup tie in which Premier League class outshone a Brighton side managed by gremlin looking Dean Wilkins. The game, however, was the confirmation for me that Carlos Tevez is the best player I have ever seen in a West Ham United shirt. He was constantly a menace to a fragile Brighton backline and his technical skill was second to none. I remember the match mainly for a piece of exquisite skill undertaken that day. As the ball came up towards Tevez on the right-hand touchline, he was able to spin the ball with the outside of his boot, around his man who was tight on him, and follow the path of the ball to continue his run down the wing. It was an extraordinary talent mainly seen on FIFA, but not in real life.
Tevez became a cult hero the day he signed. The bamboozlement surrounding the deal created its own status as one of the most shocking transfer deals ever. By the time his debut came against Aston Villa, fans were wearing Argentina shirts and showing off the country’s flag as he came off the bench for Marlon Harewood. Despite a turbulent season for the Hammers in which Alan Pardew rotated Tevez, was eventually sacked and only survived on the last day due to a memorable goal at Old Trafford scored by Tevez under Alan Curbishley, he embedded himself in West Ham fan’s hearts for his dogged displays. It would be unfair to say Tevez kept West Ham United up, because there were a lot of other co-stars to that great escape, but his goals were influential in rejuvenating the side.
He only ever scored seven goals for West Ham United, with the first arriving as late as March in the devastating 4-3 defeat by Tottenham at Upton Park. Six more goals including a sublime free kick against Bolton and a cracking strike from 25 yards against Chelsea, as well as the infamous goal against Man United, made Tevez indispensable to the team. His eventual departure was inevitable. Much like Scott Parker, it was as difficult as it was satisfying to see a world class player move to continue his career at a higher level. I will forever remember him though as the little, beautifully ugly man from Argentina who gave East London some South American flair and passion.