LONDON: West Ham’s Argentine playmaker Carlos Tevez (pic) believes the Premier League is the toughest in the world – and he is not sure he will be playing in it next season.
Tevez, who is the focus of a transfer controversy at the relegation-threatened east London club, was quoted as telling The Times yesterday he was no longer learning to speak English because of doubts over his future.
Asked about adapting to Upton Park after a high-profile move from Brazilian club Corinthians in August, he said: “I have stopped learning English as I don’t know where I am going to end up next season.
“But yes, it was hard to settle. The language is an issue – and I will learn English if I stay in this league – and, of course, the football here is different compared to Brazil or Argentina.
“In my opinion, it’s the most difficult competition in the world. That maybe why so few people make it over here.
“Every Saturday you get kicked and you end up going home with marks all over your body. They hit you hard, they hit you everywhere – Premiership defenders are very strong individuals.
“And the referees allow a lot. They don’t interrupt the game as much as they do elsewhere.
“But you know what? I don’t mind all that, it makes me a better player, a stronger player.”
Tevez is no stranger to adversity, in football or in his personal life.
He won the Brazilian Championship with Corinthians after signing from Boca Juniors in December 2004 for a South American record US$18mil.
Looking back at his move between two countries who are such bitter soccer rivals, he said: “To succeed in Brazil as an Argentine is a feeling you cannot explain.
“The first two or three months were not great, but then I started earning the respect of those around me, above all the players. And that’s the most important thing.
“Whenever you arrive at a club, you have to earn the respect of your team-mates. If you can do that, they will be there for you ... I knew, even in the difficult times, that eventually people would see me for who I am.”
Now a father of daughter Florencia, Tevez is determined that her upbringing will be a world away from his own in a tough neighbourhood of Buenos Aires.
Recalling his childhood, he said: “I felt fear, real fear, very often. I remember lying in bed at night with my brothers and parents and hearing gunshots and screams right outside our window. That’s the way it was.
“I wouldn’t wish that kind of childhood on anyone. What is wonderful now is that my daughter can learn English, be educated in Europe.
“Regardless of whether it will be in England or elsewhere, all the doors will be open for her.”
The transfer of Tevez, along with fellow Argentine Javier Mascherano to West Ham, has led to a £5.5mil fine for the club for breaching Premier League ownership rules.
The absence of a points deduction could also lead to legal action by other clubs involved in the relegation scrap. – Reuters