Carlos Tevez is determined to win back the hearts of Manchester City fans who still resent the way he walked out on the English Premier League club last season.
Tevez, 29, returned home to Argentina to be with his family for several months after slapping in a transfer request and returned only when it was clear there were no bidders for his services.
But he claims he is a changed man now that his wife and children are back in England with him and he has worked his way back into contention for a regular first-team place.
“I knew it wasn’t going to be easy to come back,” Tevez told the Sunday Times. “I’d left City and you could almost say I’d left through the back door.
“But it is almost like there are two Tevezes. There’s the Tevez before, who had a problem, and there’s the Tevez now, who no longer has problems.”
Having his family with him has made all the difference, Tevez said. “It totally changes everything, your disposition, your humour, just having them close,” he said.
“If I wasn’t selected in the past, I’d be in a terrible mood. Now I’m still gutted but I go home, see my daughters, it takes my mind off it and I feel better.”
But despite his 11 goals in 33 appearances in all competitions this season, a sizeable section of the City supporters still bear a grudge after last season and Tevez’s goals are often met with a more muted celebration than those of his teammates.
“I knew it would be difficult for the fans to accept me again, but I hope, little by little, match by match … you give everything for the shirt and win them over through hambre de gloria (hunger for glory).
“I was once a real idol for these fans – they were so supportive of me. I hope I’m able to win them back,” Tevez said.