Some wonderful foreign talents have graced English football over the years, but few can claim to have had more influence than Osvaldo 'Ossie' Ardiles, our Icons Legend of the Week #7.
Ardiles arrived at Tottenham Hotspur just weeks after playing a starring role in Argentina's 1978 World Cup triumph. His signing represented a significant coup for Spurs, who had just won promotion back to Division One under Keith Burkinshaw. The arrival of Ardiles, together with fellow World Cup-winner Ricky Villa, ushered in a glorious era for the North London club.
Ardiles' skill and determination made him a cult hero at White Hart Lane. No-nonsense and all-action, Ardiles was not one for the histrionics stereotypically associated with many foreign imports. Despite his slight build, Ardiles possessed great strength and determination. He became the driving force in the Spurs midfield, forming a formidable partnership in the middle of the park with Glenn Hoddle.
Between 1978 and 1988, Ardiles made well over 200 appearances for Spurs in Division One, scoring 16 goals. His first piece of silverware came in his third season, when Spurs beat Manchester City 3-2 in the 1981 FA Cup final replay having previously drawn 1-1. His countryman Villa stole the show with a phenomenal solo goal, but Ardiles had already established himself as a lynchpin in Burkinshaw's side. Off the pitch, Ardiles status as a cult hero was further enhanced when Spurs released "Ossie's Dream" in collaboration with Chas & Dave during that year's FA Cup campaign.
Spurs retained the FA Cup in 1982, although Ardiles missed the final against QPR. On 3rd April, the day after the outbreak of the Falkland's War, Ardiles helped his side to a 2-0 semi-final victory over Leicester City at Villa Park. Three days later, however, he left for Argentina, having already agreed to return early for their World Cup preparations. As the conflict raged in the Falkland's, his career in England was thrown into jeopardy. He was eventually able to return in December, but in the wake of the trouble, Ardiles was immediately loaned to Paris Saint-Germain in France.
Ardiles returned to England at the end of 1982/83 season, and featured as Spurs won the UEFA Cup in 1984 with victory of Belgian side Anderlecht. He eventually left Spurs in 1987 and in 1989 he began a career as a manager that would take him all over the world, including a season back at Spurs in 1993/94.
Ardiles won 63 caps for Argentina, scoring eight goals. At White Hart Lane he remains a legend, and he has been inducted into the Spurs Hall of Fame. One of the first foreign players to make a successful impact in England, Ossie set high standards for those who would follow.
We have a great range of Ossie Ardiles products for sale at excellent prices, including a singed 1984 UEFA Cup Final shirt and signed photos with Ricky Villa. View the full range here.