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Road to Glory

In the same summer Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa signed for Tottenham Hotspur, they also became FIFA World Cup winners with Argentina. Andy Greeves looks back on their path to success in the tournament, held in their homeland in 1978.

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When Argentina hosted the FIFA World Cup for the first time in 1978, they were looking to replicate the achievement of Uruguay, Italy, England and West Germany, who had all previously won the competition on home soil.

Manager Cesar Luis Menotti had a talented squad at his disposal which included defensive rock and captain Daniel Passarella, holding midfielder Americo Gallego and wide men Daniel Bertoni and Oscar Alberto Ortiz.

There was the goal scoring threat of Mario Kempes – the only overseas based player in the Argentina squad at the time, who was then starring as a forward for Valencia. Also on the squad list was a certain 25-year-old midfielder by the name of Osvaldo Ardiles, who was plying his trade for club side Huracan back then and Racing Club’s Ricardo Villa – also 25.

Interestingly, the Argentinian squad for the tournament was numbered alphabetically by surname, so Ardiles wore the number two shirt and Villa sported 22. Midfielder Norberto Alonso played with number one on his back and first-choice goalkeeper Ubaldo Fillol wore number five!

The hosts found themselves in Group One in the tournament, along with France, Hungary and Italy.



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