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Ricky's return

Posted on 3 January 2001  - 12:00

Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs) Football Club is located in North London. The club is also known as Spurs. Tottenham's home ground is White Hart Lane. The club motto is Audere est Facere (To dare is to do).

The respective winter breaks of the Japanese and Argentinean leagues has led to the reunion of a legendary Tottenham double-act.

As anyone who was at Tuesday night’s humdinger against Newcastle will know, Ricky Villa is back in town, and the big man was visibly moved by the reception he received when he strode the White Hart Lane pitch again at half-time.

Ricky is staying with former Tottenham manager and the other half of Keith Burkinshaw’s amazing 1978 double transfer swoop, Ossie Ardiles, and his family. Ossie still has a home nearby and is also on a return visit from Japan.

We caught up with Ricky before the game to find out how it felt to be back on his old stomping ground.

"The first impression is back to my memories and a lot of things. I lived here with my family, my children were born here and it’s very difficult to explain how I feel now after nearly 20 years. Really I feel great because all the people here treat me lovely and this is really good for me.

White Hart Lane has altered considerably since the cultured midfielder departed in 1983 and Ricky was suitably impressed. "Many, many changes," he observed. "It looks nice, it looks super — really, really good. I am impressed very much with this stadium, it looks really well.

Ricky is currently managing Defensa y Justicia (Defense & Justice), one of the most popular teams from southern Great Buenos Aires.

"It’s a Christmas break, we start training on Jan 15 and I am looking forward that. It’s a small club, second division in Argentina, but I get involved with football, which I like, and they are a good team."

So does Ricky have designs on a return to Europe in a management capacity?

"It’s my dream to come into Europe and manage a team here. This is a really good thing — I look forward to it a lot."

We told Ricky to glance up at the Jumbotron before the game and see again his unforgettable goal in the 1981 FA Cup final replay. He was slightly taken aback, and more than a little proud, to be informed that it is played before every game at the Lane.

"I believe it was a really good goal, in the right place, in the right moment. Spurs won the Cup and it is a high memory for me. I can’t believe coming here after 20 years and people remember and remind me of that goal. It’s really good.

"I have to say thank you to English football, to the English fans to the Spurs, of course. It’s a honour for me and I believe it will stay in the history of the club and in Britain and I’m really pleased with that.

Ricky arrived in the country on Friday and had the dubious pleasure of taking in our game against Ipswich on television. While he was disappointed with the performance of the team, he forecasts brighter prospects ahead.

"I saw the game against Ipswich, the team played not much football. I was thinking about Argentina and the Argentinean way, everybody skilful. It is not a good time for the team at the moment. I believe that tonight (Tuesday against Newcastle) or the next game it will start, and potentially it is good. I like the team to be in a better position."

The Big Man proved himself to be a pretty good tipster there, but could he himself have coped with the pace of the modern game?

"Yes, I believe that, but if you put a skilful player on the pitch the speed of the game will come down. Why not? You see every good player looks slow with his control of the ball.

"Not just in England, but in Argentina too, the football is quick because there is not many, many skilful players and I look both here and in Argentina because I like a skilful player. It’s a special game when you have a good player."

By Richard Hubbard