Ossie’s Nightmare


The day after the invasion, Osvaldo Ardiles played for Spurs in a 2-0 FA Cup Semi-Final win over Leicester City. Ossie claims he was cheered by Spurs supporters while Foxes fans shouted abuse. Evidence that public opinion in the Midlands was more behind the war than in London? Of course not. Just another example of beliefs and principles being put aside due to football fever. For ninety minutes, the tribe comes before the nation.
Tottenham coach, Keith Burkinshaw, said he was disgusted by the behaviour of the Leicester fans. He had to defend his player but Spurs fans would’ve done the same had Ardiles been playing for the opposition. During the crisis, Burkinshaw went to visit Ardiles in Alicante, where Argentina were preparing for the World Cup. Ossie handed in a transfer request, Burkinshaw didn’t want to lose him for good. The resulting compromise was a year’s loan deal with Paris Saint-Germain.
In My Life in Football, Ossie claimed that politics should be left out of sport. But athletes can get caught up in wars like anyone else. They are not immune to political fallout, although they often suffer little more than disappointment caused by cancelled plans. However, Ossie was personally touched by the Falklands War. His cousin Jose Ardiles was killed in action at the beginning of May and holds the sad distinction of being the first Argentine pilot to die in the conflict.

From Countries of the World, Breogan Books 2011

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