The modern English game is starlit by innumerable international players from around the globe. Mesmerising talents such as Erling Haaland and Mohamed Salah may spring to mind, or perhaps the prolific Thierry Henry from years gone by.

The most notable one of them all however, arrived in North London alongside Argentine compatriot Ricardo “Ricky” Villa in 1978, paving the way for foreign footballers in England.

Osvaldo “Ossie” Ardiles: The immortalised midfield maestro, and Tottenham cult hero.

Beginning at his local club, Instituto Atlético Central Córdoba, young Ardiles made a name for himself thanks to his mazey dribbling and fancy footwork, utilising his proficient technical ability to dance through defences. Breaking into the first team in 1973, he rose up the ranks, signing for Belgrano a year later, and Huracán in 1975. It didn’t take long for Ardiles to catch the eye of national coach César Luis Menotti, rapidly becoming an integral member of the Argentina squad.

In 1978, the World Cup’s host nation found themselves in the final. “It was the biggest game of my life. The final was just completely unique.” , Ardiles recalls. “There were quite a lot of nerves but as soon as the game started and the ball is running, its okay. Celebrations? Yes, a lot of great celebrations. You find celebrations are not only for the moment after the game. In fact, the celebrations carry on forever.”

After his triumph, world champions Ardiles and Villa sparked interest abroad from newly promoted Tottenham Hotspur. “I wanted to come and play in Europe. England never ever crossed my mind, there were no foreign players here in England! Me and Ricky were the very first ones.”


“I talked to Ricky. He wasn’t very happy coming to England to play… He was pretty happy in Argentina. I would say that I convinced him. We arrived, the two of us. It was great that it wasn’t only one, but two of us.”

“I was able to change the game here in England. England needed to change to be honest! Far too much long balls. All the time the ball was in the air. It needed to be a little bit more sophisticated.”

Ardiles became a legend at Spurs. “Ossie’s Dream” became a club hit, commemorating the team reaching the 1981 FA Cup final. “My best achievement was definitely the first FA Cup. From there it started everything else, the second FA Cup in 1982, and the UEFA Cup as well in 1984.”

Being a part of so many successful teams, the Argentine played alongside many other footballing greats. “I was very fortunate in my life that I played with a lot of extremely good players. Glenn Hoddle, Mario Kempes, Ricky Villa. But of course, we are talking about Diego Maradona. He’s very special. He was the best player of his generation. Personally, I believe he is the best of all time.”

After 221 appearances and 16 goals for the ‘Lilywhites’, Ardiles left Tottenham in 1988, continuing his English footballing journey at Blackburn Rovers and QPR. Subsequently, he went into management, coaching a wide range of clubs around the world, including in England and his native Argentina.

The mark Osvaldo Ardiles has left on the English game remains to this day, permeating teams across the Premier League where foreign players are given the opportunity to play.

It simply wouldn’t have been possible without Ossie.