More than any other English club, Tottenham Hotspur has had a long-standing love affair with Argentinian footballers which started back in 1978 when Ossie Ardiles and Ricardo Villa surprised the footballing world by moving to White Hart Lane. The bigger of the signings was Ardiles (whose full name is Osvaldo César Ardiles) who was a member of the Argentine national team that had just won that summer’s FIFA World Cup. His performances brought his considerable skills to the attention of the English football community in general, and Tottenham Hotspur’s then manager, Keith Burkinshaw, in particular.
Ardiles was born in Cordoba and, as a youngster, played for the Instituto de Cordoba. In 1974 he was nominated as the player of the interior by El Grafico, and he gave up his law studies to become a full-time professional footballer. The rest, as they say, is history. Over his decade at White Hart Lane, he scored some memorable goals for the Lilywhites and was one of the most creative midfielders of his generation.
He was joined in north London by Ricardo Villa who also was a member of that Argentine World Cup-winning squad. He would go on to make 170 appearances for the club and scored 25 goals. His most famous came at Wembley against Manchester City in the 1981 FA Cup Final Replay which two decades later was voted as Wembley Goal of the Century.
Another Argentine of note for Tottenham was in this instance not player, but rather a manager – Mauricio Pochettino. As a player, Pochettino played as an uncompromising central defender mostly for La Liga side, Espanyol and was a member of the team that won two Copa del Rey trophies. He also played for Paris Saint Germain and Bordeaux and represented his country on 20 occasions, including during the 2002 FIFA World Cup.
Pochettino’s managerial career began with his old club Espanyol where he worked for four years before taking the same role at Southampton. In 2013/2014, he led the Saints to an eighth-place finish in the Premier League (the club’s highest placing since 2003) and saw the team achieve the highest number of points since the beginning of the Premier League in 1992. He was snapped up by Tottenham in May 2014 and went on to lead the club to a trio of top-three finishes in the Premier League and an appearance in the Champions League final against Liverpool in 2019. All good things come to an end and Pochettino left Spurs in November 2019 and is currently looking for a suitable managerial role for the 2020-21 season.
Tottenham’s love affair with Argentine players continues: Eric Lamela has been a valued member of the squad since 2013, and now, one of their January transfer signings, Giovani Lo Celso, who came on a loan deal from Real Betis but has now been signed up permanently, is winning the hearts of Tottenham supporters. He suffered an injury when he first joined the Lilywhites, so it wasn’t the perfect start. But now he is beginning to find his form and is commanding a regular place in the starting eleven. Big things are expected of the 24-year-old next season, and who knows, he could be the new Ossie Ardiles, but with even more attitude.