By Eliot Goodyer (@eliot_goodyer)
In March, Boca Juniors clinched their 34th Argentinian league title with a 1-0 victory over Gimnasia La Plata courtesy of a late goal from one of their own, Carlos Tevez.
Just one of the greatest clips we’ve ever seen.
Here’s the scenes from Boca winning the championship last night. pic.twitter.com/Z2gaJ5S0Vd
— TCD (@theculturedivis) March 8, 2020
Not only is this Boca’s fourth championship in six seasons, but its significance also extends to the all-time rankings since the club is now only two titles behind its neighbours and loathed rivals River Plate.
Boca and River’s games on the final day were appropriately scheduled for the same kick-off time; accordingly, the whole of Argentina was preparing itself for an engrossing climax to the campaign.
At La Bombonera, the self-proclaimed Rey de Copas were struggling to unlock a stubborn Gimnasia rearguard until Tevez rifled home from the edge of the box in the 72nd minute to send the supporters that worship him into utter delirium.
Although a River goal in Tucumán would mean this cacophonous eruption would be in vain, that didn’t discourage Tevez, the rest of the players, and the Boca faithful from celebrating wildly in unison.
In the opposition dugout for the game was a certain Diego Maradona, the poster boy of Argentinian football when Tevez was a youngster, and prior to kick-off, Tevez kissed his idol for good fortune.
Cynics may have questioned this outlandish decision, but you could say Tevez was vindicated when he scored the goal to consolidate his position in the pantheon of Boca Juniors legends.
With two matches still to play, River were firmly in the driving seat and could even afford to draw one of their relatively auspicious fixtures. However, two draws against Defensa y Justicia, managed by legendary frontman Hernan Crespo, and Atlético Tucumán, ensured bragging rights in Buenos Aires would instead go to Boca.
Often taunted by Boca fans for caving-in when it really matters, this mini capitulation will simultaneously perpetuate the stigma, and avenge Copa Libertadores defeats to River in the 2018 final and the semi-final in 2019.
Such is Tevez’s affinity with the club, this is his third stint as a Boca player, having already worn blue and yellow in esteemed fashion between 1997 and 2004 and later between 2015 and 2016.
He made his debut at the age of 16 in a league encounter versus Talleres de Córdoba in 2011, though he featured only 10 times that season and scored once.
It wasn’t until the 2003 Copa Libertadores final that Tevez truly ignited both his Boca and personal careers. Confronted with Brazilian outfit Santos, Boca won 5-1 on aggregate with Tevez notching one of the goals in a 3-1 triumph in the away leg, and the rising star was even voted as the tournament’s best player to boot.
Despite eventually losing in the final to Colombian side Once Caldas, Tevez further adorned himself to Boca fans in the team’s 2004 Copa Libertadores journey.
This time, Tevez found the net in both games of Boca’s round of 16 wins against Peru’s Club Sporting Cristal, and for which he’ll be remembered more, he was sent off for his chicken celebration following a crucial goal in their semi-final tie against River Plate. Tevez wasn’t exactly discreet in mocking the opposition crowd, with River called ‘Gallinas’ (‘chickens’) by other sets of fans for their aforementioned habit of yielding late on.
In 2015, it was widely acknowledged that he still possessed the physical capacity to excel in Europe, nevertheless, he decided to return to La Bombonera to try and fulfil a career-long ambition of winning the domestic double in Argentina, which he succeeded in doing.
At the age of 36, even though his appetite to continue playing can’t be disputed, it is doubtful whether Tevez is capable of being an integral player for his beloved Boca in years to come.
If this is to be the beginning of the end for his playing years, he has given those Boca supporters a hell of a parting gift.