Ossie’s ‘trembly knees’ at Wembley will be a constant fixture in Spurs fan’s living memory. He was an enigmatic player for the club, with his partner in crime Ricky Villa invoking the new global era of the game. From Argentina, he made a massive transfer to the English game, and thrived to become one of the best loved Spurs players.
Ardiles grew up in Argentina, under a military dictatorship. He lived through the Falklands War conflict, which was a difficult period in which he had to go out on loan to Paris Saint-Germain. He represented his country 52 times, scoring 8 goals.
He started his career with Insituto de Cordoba. In 1974, he was named as a best player in El Gráfico. As a result of his big early success in football, he ceased his law studies to play full time football.
The huge move came after he won the World Cup with Argentina in 1978. For most English fans, Ardiles was an unknown player until this huge final. It was a final that really demonstrated what Ardiles had to offer, with his old childhood nickname of Python ringing true. His mazy dribbling, quick feet and eye for a pass really held the attentions of Spurs fans. So, when his transfer was announced, fans were astounded. There was a mixed reaction to his and Villa’s signing in truth. This was the very first major transfer of a foreign player to the domestic game. Some players spoke out against signing talent from abroad. Other fans condemned these foreigners, expecting them to fail to adapt to the English game. However, Ardiles and Villa proved them wrong.
Ossie’s biggest moment came in the 1981 FA Cup final over Manchester City. The first match was a diabolical affair. However, in the second, Ardiles took a key role, helping to supply his forwards during the match.
After this great cup success, he even became a filmstar. Featuring in Escape to Victory alongside Pele and Sylvester Stallone. The World War Two film was released in 1981, and since has become a feature in popular football culture.
After retiring from his playing career, Ossie went on to manage an impressive number of clubs. He took the helm at Swindon, then to Newcastle, West Brom and then to Tottenham Hotspur.
His management of Spurs hardly lived up to his playing days, though. He guided the club to a 15th placed finish, which lead to his sacking in October 1994.
However, that did not discourage him from his managing career. He has gone on to manage a further 12 teams, including in Mexico, Japan, Croatia, Syria and in his home country of Argentina.
Over his long career in football, he has collected many accolades. He has won the FA Cup and UEFA Cup playing with Spurs. But, as a manager he managed to get Swindon promoted (although final irregularity meant they were sent back down), as well as West Brom, as well as cup wins for his various Japanese teams. As an individual player, his footballing might was recognised when he was named as one of the Golden Foot legends to present the award in 2013.