Boca Juniors' Carlos Tevez calls stay in Shanghai a 'seven-month holiday'
Carlos Tevez said that he went on a "seven-month holiday" after joining Chinese Super League side Shanghai Shenhua in December 2016.
Tevez told TyC Sports that he accepts the criticism he received for his disappointing spell in Asia. Injuries and a lack of fitness limited the former Manchester United, Manchester City and Juventus player to just 16 league appearances in 12 months for Shenhua, missing five games in the spring and three in August.
He scored four goals and set up five more, including a goal and two assists in his debut -- a 4-0 victory over Jiangsu Suning.
"[Criticism] was the price I had to pay for not being up to standard," Tevez said. "I spent seven months on holiday.
"My face said it all. What was I doing there? It would have been easy for me to stay [another year]. I was there as an idol."
When asked if hanging up his boots was on the cards before he received the lucrative two-year offer from Shanghai, Tevez said he considered it.
"To always have to fight, wanting to be 100 percent consumes you," Tevez said. "I made my debut at 17 and I'm 33, and you always tell yourself, 'I'm going to prepare to win this,' and then prepare to win the next thing and so forth. I try to do the best I can to win. Whatever I play, I want to win and that leads to a physical and mental wear and tear.
"One cannot be ill or not be anything other than at 100 percent. You get annoyed because you want those that come to watch you to see you at your best when you may not feel that way. Then you think, 'When is this going to stop?' So yes, I did consider it. But people encourage you and push you every day to continue when you say, 'I've had enough.' That is what drives you."
Tevez said that he left Boca in December 2016 because he desperately needed a change as his "head was about to explode," but admitted he wanted to return to his home club as soon as he landed in China.
"It was a very difficult decision to leave Boca, regardless of the money," he said. "Now I've come back because I wanted to come back home, to return to my club."
When Tevez moved to China, he had a clause inserted into his contract which stipulated he would be able to return to the Argentine club for a certain price.
"Boca is much better now on and off the pitch than when I left," he said. "It's a different Boca. I had a clause just for Boca in my contract and when [Boca] president [Daniel Angelici] came to see me in China, I told him I wanted to return.
"We arranged to see how we would pay the €6 million [to be released from Shenhua], but I told him that I wanted to leave as a free agent so that Boca would not have to pay a penny. My agent, Adrian [Ruocco], worked for a month to get it done. I've come back, I feel comfortable, I'm happy and that is what matters."
Tevez played for Boca from 2001 to 2004 before embarking on a career in the Premier League and in Serie A.
He returned to his boyhood club in 2015 and scored 25 goals in 56 games.
When asked if he would retire with the Xeneize, Tevez, who signed a two-year contract with Boca, said he would.
"People are always going to ask you to continue," he said. "That is why one has to have clear when they want to retire. I've got two more years and I want to enjoy my time at Boca."
Adriana Garcia is a Valencia-based football writer who covers La Liga for ESPN FC.