A World Cup winner with Argentina in 1978 and famously helping us to victory in the 1981 FA Cup Final, Ossie added a third medal to his collection in 1984 when we won the UEFA Cup after that intense and dramatic penalty shoot-out win over Anderlecht.
It proved to be a high point in what was a particularly frustrating season for the Argentine midfield maestro, who was plagued by injuries to such an extent that he only featured 13 times for Keith Burkinshaw’s side, registering just one goal.
He was on the comeback trail in mid-February of that season and, by the time we faced Austria Memphis in the fourth round of the UEFA Cup - 30 years ago next week - Ossie has managed to get a number of games under his belt.
He featured in both games against the Austrians, as goals from Alan Brazil and Steve Archibald gave us a 2-0 first leg win here, before drawing 2-2 in the Prater Stadium. Eight minutes from time in Vienna, Ardiles pounced on a half-cleared corner to smash home our second of the night to ensure safe passage into the semi-finals.
“I was just coming back from injury at this time,” recalled Ossie. “It was one of my first games back, I played 90 minutes and scored as well, so that was the icing on the cake.
“Then we started to believe that we had a chance to lift the cup. We played a lot of difficult games against top teams like Bayern Munich. But what I remember more than anything was the injuries. It was almost as if we had a new line-up in every game, but all the players responded and the whole squad played their part.”
Indeed, such were our injury problems during the campaign, that Burkinshaw used no fewer than 23 players across the 12 matches in our UEFA Cup run. While that is commonplace in these days of big squads and player rotation, it was unusual 30 years ago.
The likes of Garry Brooke (4), Ally Dick (4), Gary O’Reilly (3), Paul Price (2), Ian Crook (2), Garth Crooks (1), and Richard Cooke (1) all featured in just a handful of matches en route to our Euro glory, while even Tony Parks, our penalty-saving hero in that second leg here against Anderlecht, only played in five games in that run.
Having edged past Hajduk Split 2-1 on aggregate to reach the two-legged final, we were missing established stars including Ray Clemence, Glenn Hoddle and Gary Mabbutt as we headed to Belgium for the first match. Ossie’s difficult campaign had taken a turn for the worse when he picked up another knock which kept him out for two months after that Austria Memphis clash and, although he was close to fitness again, wasn’t ready for the first leg of the Final.
A crucial away goal from Paul Miller in our 1-1 draw in Brussels made sure we returned home to N17 with a very real chance of lifting the trophy, but we were dealt a further blow as Steve Perryman picked up a yellow card in the game, leaving him suspended for the all-important second leg.
“It was a special night for everything that happened,” Ossie continued. “Glenn and Ray were injured, Steve Perryman was suspended and Keith had to make a decision in the second leg over who to play – myself or Gary Mabbutt. I was about 30 per cent fit, I couldn’t play for 90 minutes, neither could Mabbsy, so we went with Gary to start and for me to come on later.”
It was the visitors who drew first blood at the Lane though, when Alex Czerniatinski fired them ahead on the hour mark to leave our hopes hanging by a thread. With 14 minutes remaining, Burkinshaw rolled the dice and took a chance, bringing on Ardiles in place of Miller.
The switch paid dividends as Ossie had just enough time to weave his magic, his presence on the pitch lifting both his team-mates and the crowd for one final push. He had already cracked an effort against the crossbar when our pressure told and Graham Roberts ploughed his way through the Anderlecht defence to equalise.
After an uneventful extra half hour, it was left to a penalty shoot-out to decide the winners, Parks’ two superb saves ensuring a happy ending for all of a Spurs persuasion.
“There was a big question mark over my fitness, but it was a final and we took a chance. Micky Hazard had a superb game that night, the team played really well. We came though on penalties and won the UEFA Cup, it was a fantastic night.
“I have to say the whole cup run was absolutely brilliant. Every game at White Hart Lane was special and we played teams that played a different way. We knew what to expect from the English teams but you didn’t have as much information on European teams, even the big clubs. It was a novelty, great excitement throughout and the atmosphere at the Lane each game was fantastic.”