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Spurs Argentine Connection

Tottenham Hotspur and Argentina have history, a long and happy history, that our new signing begins to write a new chapter of.

Spurs became the first club to play a foreign born player in the football league, Max Seeburg on 26th September 1908. He was a German who played the one Second Division game against Hull City and then moved on to Leyton Orient the following month. Thus the tradition of foreign born players begun.

Erik Lamela is the latest in our association with Argentina, an association that began in 1909. Freshly signed from Roma this summer for £25.8 million, he is showing signs of finding his feet quickly and gives the impression that it won't take him to long to adjust to the Premier League. A star is in the making who will be commanding a first team place sooner rather than later.

Let's not forget Lamela doesn't speak any English so communication with the players is a problem, but he made an assist for the winner at Cardiff in only 15 minutes, created the first against Tromso with a delightful through ball for Defoe and got a full game under his belt against Aston Villa.

He is certainly in contention for a place against Chelsea on the right where he looks most dangerous. He can dribble, he can shoot and he can pick out a pass as his assists in such limited game time already show.

The 21 year-olds signing had me thinking about our Argentinian connection and the day we shook the world.

In 1909 having finished second in the old Second Division (Championship today) and gained promotion we embarked on an end of season tour of Argentina and Uruguay, in the days where you went everywhere by boat so it was quite an undertaking. We played 7 matches in 19 days over there, winning 5, drawing 1 and losing 1. We drew 2-2 with Everton, beat the Uruguay League 8-0, beat Argentinos 1-0, beat Liga Argentina 4-1, lost to Everton 4-0, beat Rosario 9-0 and Alumini 5-0.

We were to wait another 69 years for the next major connection between us.

Argentina had just won the confetti World Cup in 1978 in front of their own fans, the images of a stadium full of confetti floating down will live on probably longer than any other image of that time. It serves as a reminder, a prompter for the recall of other memories, the blue and white stripped shirts, Mario Kempes finishing and the players with the trophy itself. Among these images a diminutive Argentinian Osvaldo Ardiles sticks in the mind.

English football had only a couple of years earlier lifted the ban on foreign players playing over here and the few that had come from Europe were journeymen pro's, nobody of any significance. Spurs changed all that.

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Spurs Stun World Football
Osvaldo Ardiles and Ricardo Villa wanted to play in England and were offered to Sheffield United just a few days after the World Cup final. Sheffield United couldn't afford them and phoned our then manager Keith Burkinshaw. He interrupted a board meeting to get permission to fly to Argentina to sign the pair.

The negotiations took 20 minutes, the pair cost £750,000. The world was stunned. It was described as the most sensational deal in British football history.

Front page headlines recorded the incredible event, a ground breaking event. It led the 6 o'clock news bulletin.

The World Cup Final was on the 25th June 1978, the papers told the world of their signing on July 11th. The World Cup was fresh in everyones mind and as an 18 year old Spurs fan I can tell you if you related this to today's market, for shock value it was like we had just signed Lionel Messi. This sort of thing just didn't happen in football.

We all know what followed despite people thinking Ardiles was too small for the English game. He proved them wrong. Ricky Villa scored on his debt and of course scored what was voted as the Wembley Goal of the Century in the 1981 Cup Final replay.

It was a pleasure to go and see Hoddle and Ardiles in the same team each week. Cups won, Villa wonder goals, it was a good time to be a Spurs fan. Ardiles revealed:

“The idea was to play a few seasons and then return, but we never imagined the impact we would have. It’s said that our success paved the way for more foreign players to come to England, and there is some truth in that.

"I believe the influx would have happened anyway, but our accomplishments accelerated that process."

Spurs Hoddle & Maradona
In May 1986 Ossie Ardiles had a testimonial at White Hart Lane and the worlds best player agreed to play for his fellow Argentinian. Glenn Hoddle gave a certain Diego Maradona his number 10 shirt to wear. In front of a full house the team that night against Inter Milan was:

Clemence (Jennings), Roberts (D. Thomas), Hughton, Mabbutt, Miller, Galvin (Samways), Ardiles (Waddle), Falco, Clive Allen, Maradona, Hoddle

The Falklands War raised it's ugly head and tensions rose so we loaned Ardlies out to PSG for the 1982-83 season while things calmed down and Ricky Villa left for Fort Lauderdale.

In 1987 Ossie briefly took on the role of caretaker manager and then in 1993 he had a spell as our manager that didn't turn out the way he had hoped. He brought Jurgen Klinnsman to the club but we had off field problems at the time and we parted company in 1994. Today Ossie is still an ambassador for the club and both he and Ricardo Villa are in our Hall of Fame.

At the end of 1998 our association with Argentina continued in the shape of  Under 21 international Mauricio Taricco who we bought from Ipswich Town. He was a tough tackling left-back who stayed with us until 2004. Prone to the odd error he was full of determination and commitment.

In February 2013 the Tottenham Hotspur Argentina Supporters Club was born and now we have a new Argentinian in our ranks and a very talented one at that.

Erik Lamela has arrived as a 21 year-old to wow a new generation of Spurs supporters, the way Ardiles and Villa wowed my generation.



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