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Tevez can't stand thought of not winning World Cup

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — If Lionel Messi represents the genius of Argentina, Carlos Tevez embodies its fighting spirit.

A relentless warrior who would run through a brick wall for his team and country, Tevez has captured the hearts of Argentines after his two goals against Mexico set up a quarterfinal against Germany.

"I have a hunger for glory so great than I can't even imagine not winning the cup," Tevez told Argentine newspaper Clarin. "It would be very sad, I could not bear to lose on Saturday."

In many ways, Tevez is the opposite of the clean cut and mild-mannered Messi, who remains Argentina's undisputed superstar despite not scoring any goals yet in the World Cup.

Tevez grew up in a rough Buenos Aires neighborhood known as "Fort Apache." That's how he got the nickname "El Apache," though he prefers the more endearing "Carlitos" used by Maradona, who also hails from a modest background in the slums of the Argentine capital.

The 26-year-old striker has a burn scar stretching down his neck from his right ear, the result of a scalding accident when he was a child. In a country obsessed with plastic surgery, the fact that he has refused to remove it says something about his character.

And while much has been said about English players entering the World Cup exhausted by the grueling Premier League season, the Manchester City striker says he has never played better.

Tevez' second goal against Mexico, a powerful right-footed shot from 25 yards, was one of the most spectacular goals of the tournament. However, he admitted his disputed first goal should have been ruled offside.

"At first I thought the goal would be disallowed," Tevez said after the Mexico match. "I know I was in an offside position ... but as long as they say it was a goal that's good enough for me and the team."

Tevez made his debut for Boca Juniors in the Argentine league at 17. He moved to Brazil to play for Corinthians before transferring to English club West Ham in 2006.

After a two-year loan at Manchester United he moved to cross-town rival Manchester City last season and scored 23 league goals for his new club.

Tevez is one of five players on the squad remaining from the 2006 World Cup, when Argentina lost a quarterfinal penalty kicks shootout to Germany. It's a rematch Tevez says he's looking forward to without fear.

"I was more afraid of Mexico than Germany," he told Clarin. "Because the Mexicans play better football. They took the ball from us in the first minutes of the first half and at the start of the second. We would have suffered more if we hadn't struck at the right moments."