When Ossie's dream began – how Ardiles, Villa and England's first foreigners changed football forever

Ossie Ardiles Tottenham 1978

As they shuffled up garden paths on the morning of July 11, 1978, the nation’s paperboys could scarcely believe the story on the back page of one particular newspaper. ‘SPURS SCOOP THE WORLD’ yelled the headline of the Daily Express, as it exclusively revealed the biggest transfer coup in English football for years.

Barely a fortnight after the ticker tape-strewn World Cup final in Buenos Aires, two members of the winning Argentina squad – bearded wideman Ricky Villa and, more notably, pivotal playmaker Osvaldo Ardiles – had put pen to paper and were now to ply their trade in a certain corner of north London. It was nothing short of sensational. As the Guardian’s David Lacey wrote: “It was as if the janitor had gone to buy a tin of paint and returned with a Velazquez.”

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