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Ossie on Gio Lo Celso: “He can go from strength to strength”

Thu 09 April 2020, 09:04|Tottenham Hotspur

Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa were the trailblazers - and Ossie is impressed with the latest Argentinian midfielder following in their footsteps at Spurs.

We stunned the football world when Keith Burkinshaw completed the double signing of World Cup winners Ossie and Ricky in the summer of 1978.

The pair, of course, became Club legends - ‘Ossie’s Dream’ realised by playing in (and winning) the FA Cup Final, Ricky’s amazing solo to help us beat Manchester City in the replay of 1981. Ricky made 179 appearances (25 goals) before moving to Fort Lauderdale in the USA in 1983 while Ossie stayed for 10 years – 311 appearances, also 25 goals - and later became manager in 1993-94.

Now another fleet-footed Argentine is catching the eye - Giovani Lo Celso, who celebrates his 24th birthday today (9 April).

He’s very skilful... look, everyone is skilful, but what makes you different is what is in your head

Ossie Ardiles on Gio

Initially joining on loan from Real Betis, we exercised the option to convert that loan to a permanent transfer at the end of January, Gio signing a contract until 2025.

There is no hiding that it was tough for Gio to make his mark at the start of his Spurs career. He arrived late in pre-season due to his involvement in the Copa America with Argentina, which ended on 6 July. He was then hit by a hip injury in his next international call-up against Chile in September that ruled him out for six weeks.

It’s safe to say he’s shone since then. He scored on his full debut in the Champions League at Red Star and has now started 10 of our last 13 matches, his form prompting Jose Mourinho to describe him as ‘phenomenal’.

“The first thing I’d like to say about Giovani is that I’m very proud of him,” said Ossie, capped 52 times by Argentina and a hero back home alongside the likes of Maradona, Passarella and Kempes. “I started to notice him when he came through to the international team two years ago. In fact, not only me, but a lot of people started to notice him.

“Suddenly, when he came here to Spurs, he had one of the worst things that can happen to you as a footballer when you first arrive in a new club – he got injured. In fact, he was injured against Chile in September, a terrible tackle. So, he arrived at a new club in Tottenham, wanted to play, wanted to do well but he couldn’t because of that injury, so it wasn’t the most auspicious of starts.

“However, he started to play more regularly and, immediately, he made an impact. He’s a very sensible player, he knows what he’s doing all the time, he’s clever and so on. Little by little, I have to say, he’s adapted to the pace of the game here extremely well. Right now, it doesn’t look like he has any problems with that at all.

“He can play in a number of positions in midfield, sometimes to the right, sometimes to the left, he uses his left foot more but he’s very comfortable on the right as well. So basically, he can play in any position in midfield.

“In fact, he can play the holding, defensive midfield position as well, he already has done this season. For me, his ideal position is when he has freedom, he can go forward and attack players. If he has space, he’ll attack it immediately and that produces space for other players.

“He’s very skilful... look, everyone is skilful, but what makes you different is what is in your head, and even though he’s very young, I don’t want to say he has an older head, but he has a more experienced head on his shoulders. He’s a very, very good player and he can go from strength to strength.”