In 1978, the Football League lifted a 47-year ban on signing foreign players, and an influx of new talent flooded England’s shores. At the forefront of this revolution was Osvaldo Ardiles. He became to be known as ‘Ossie.’
Osvaldo Ardiles Is A Roaring Success
In July of 1978, Tottenham Hotspur announced the signing of Argentine World Cup winner Osvaldo Ardiles in an unprecedented move that changed English soccer forever. Ardiles went on to win the FA Cup and the UEFA Cup during his decade in North London.
It was never a given that Ardiles could be successful in England. Latin American players tend to be more comfortable moving to leagues with similar styles of play, like Italy, Spain, and Portugal. Osvaldo Ardiles had the world at his feet. He could have gone anywhere, but he chose England, which could have been career suicide.
Thankfully, this significant risk paid off. Naturally, more clubs started looking beyond their borders for new talent. Two more Argentine stars, Alberto Tarantini and Alex Sabella arrived at Birmingham and Sheffield, respectively. Ipswich signed Dutchmen Arnold Muhren and Frank Thijssen, and the duo would go on to win the 1981 UEFA Cup.
The Famous Five
In 1989, Osvaldo Ardiles moved into management, taking charge of Swindon Town. The Swindon faithful were impressed with his free-scoring soccer. After some initial success, Ardiles jumped ship to join Newcastle United (where he became the first foreign manager in the team’s history). He only lasted 12 months before joining third-tier West Bromwich and helping The Baggies gain promotion.
Though it was ultimately unsuccessful, his main breakthrough as a coach came with his old club Tottenham. At Spurs, Osvaldo Ardiles Famous Five—Klinsmann, Dumitrescu, Sheringham, Barmby, and Anderton—became part of the club’s folklore through their fluid, fun-to-watch style. Unfortunately, however, his team was unbalanced, and with results turning sour, Ossie was sacked after just a few months.
Osvaldo Ardiles Legacy
Ossie Ardiles was a trailblazer and a revolutionary who changed English soccer forever. These days, Premier League teams are brimming with foreign talent. Recently Tottenham’s squad for their game against Sheffield consisted of twelve foreign players, seven non-EU players.
Without Osvaldo Ardiles’s legacy, it’s hard to imagine the likes of Guardiola, Klopp, and Pochettino going on to lead big clubs in the Premier League.
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