From North London To Paris: How The Falklands War Sent Ossie Ardiles To PSG

From North London To Paris: How The Falklands War Sent Ossie Ardiles To PSG
10:30, 05 Jul 2019

Ossie Ardiles hit the limelight when he, alongside his compatriot Ricky Villa, joined Tottenham Hotspur on the back of their 1978 World Cup triumph with Argentina, becoming two of the first foreign players to ply their trade on English shores. 

Ardiles became an immensely popular figure at White Hart Lane, making more than 200 appearances for the club over a decade, helping the side to their UEFA Cup win in 1984 and, of course, his collaboration with Chas & Dave and the rest of the Spurs squad for ‘Ossie’s Dream’, a song that was at one point the most listened-to song in England and one which helped inspire the squad to their famous 1981 FA Cup win.

A war brewing between his home nation and the country where he worked would rock Ardiles’ career though.

On April 3, 1982, a day after the Falklands War began, Spurs played Leicester in the FA Cup semi-finals. Each time Ardiles touched the ball he was subjected to chants of “England, England, England,” to which the Spurs fans responded “Argentina, Argentina, Argentina” in defence of their star man. 

Reflecting on the game, Ardiles said: "I will never forget what happened that afternoon,"

"While the Argentines and the English killed each other, the Tottenham fans gave us a lesson."

The war hit Ardiles on a personal note too. His cousin Jose, a lieutenant in the Argentine Air Force was killed in action and became the first Argentinian pilot to die in the conflict.

Through no fault of his own, the dispute over the Falkland Islands between Argentina and Great Britain would make it difficult for Ardiles to carry on playing in England and on July 5 1982, it was decided that the centre-midfielder would make the switch to Paris Saint Germain on a six-month loan deal.

Ardiles’ spell in the French capital was not a happy one, even if he was escaping the increasing tensions brought on by the Falklands War. He made just 14 appearances for the club, scoring once and he later claimed: “I never played worse than there.” 

Ardiles was back in North London by New Year 1984, and on his return to Spurs he would help the club lift the UEFA Cup in 1984, coming on as a second-half sub against Anderlecht. 

His spell at Spurs would last until 1988, including a stint as caretaker manager (he would later return to manage the club permanently between 1993 and 1994) and on February 7 2008, Ardiles was inducted into the Tottenham Hotspur Hall of Fame alongside his fellow Argentinian Ricky Villa. 

Despite the ugly conflict that would for a brief moment provide the backdrop for Ardiles’ time at Spurs, he and Villa were trailblazers as foreign players in English football, and showed the impact they could have on our game.