Often regarded as "the other half" of the Argentinian duo Spurs signed after the 1978 World Cup, Ricky Villa proved that he was a very good player in his own right during his time at Tottenham.
Joining his local side Quilmes at the age of 17, Ricardo began a long and varied career in the game. There was a move soon after to Atletico Tucuman and then, he was signed by Racing Club of Buenos Aires for what was a record Argentinian transfer fee at the time. Selected for the Argentina side on 25 occasions, Villa made the final two international appearances of his career at the 1978 World Cup finals, which Argentina won in their homeland.
Arriving with Ossie Ardiles following his nation's World Cup triumph on home soil, Villa was more of an unknown quantity, having made only two substitute appearances on the world stage, whereas Ardiles was an ever present in the campaign to the final. Tall, strongly built and powerful on the ball, Ricky soon showed that his usefulness to the team was different to that of Ardiles, but could be nonetheless just as important. Possessing a strength on the ball that made him difficult to dispossess and a rocket of a shot, he was a useful man to have behind the front two. Although Ricky was never that quick over the ground, once he built up speed, he was very difficult to stop.
While Ricardo was never a permanent fixture in the first team, Keith Burkinshaw liked the big Argentinian and he may have looked lumbering when dispossessed of the ball or lacking the finesse of a delicate first touch, but when he had the ball at his feet, he turned into a different animal. Careering around players at speed, his ability could not be called into question and his boots seemed like they contained dynamite on the occasions he let fly with shots from distance. Always the man for the big occasion, Ricky netted a hat-trick on the day the new West Stand was opened at White hart Lane in a 6-1 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers in February 1982.
Of course, his most notable match was the FA Cup final of 1981. The Centenary Cup Final at Wembley saw Spurs pitched in against Manchester City and on a rainy Saturday afternoon, neither team sparkled and Tottenham had to rely on a deflected free-kick from Glenn Hoddle to take the game to a replay on the following Thursday. The first match is mostly remembered for two facts. Tommy Hutchinson scored at both ends in the match and that Ricky Villa had been substituted by Burkinshaw after a disappointing performance, with his slow trudge around the running track at Wembley being followed by the TV cameras as his chance to win a big trophy with the club might have gone.
However, five days later, Villa was a major player in what happened on that May evening. Re-instated to the starting line-up, he was involved from the start, when he rammed the ball into the net after shots from Ardiles and Archibald had been saved by City keeper Joe Corrigan just eight minutes into the game. After the teams had exchanged goals, the game was 2-2 going into the last 15 minutes. Tony Galvin ran up the left touchline, played the ball slightly infield to Villa and the big man started a mazy run that left five players in his wake and ended with him slipping the ball under Joe Corrigan to race away towards the bench ... a very different picture to that of the first game.
That goal will live in Wembley history, but even more it will live in Tottenham history and make Ricardo Villa forever welcome at White Hart Lane.
Unfortunately, Ricky didn't have the opportunity to repeat the feat the following year, as Spurs reached the FA Cup final again, this time against QPR. As Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands on the eve of the semi-final, there was a friction that saw Villa and Ardiles excluded from the team at Wembley, although Villa was seen watching the game from the tunnel at one end of the ground and the Spurs crowd sang his name, as Spurs went on to draw the final and win the replay.
The remainder of Ricky's time at the club was played out as a bit part player, as he was never the same after that, but he went on to play in Colombia before returning to play in lower league football in Argentina for Defensa y Justicia.
When he left football, he went into local politics for a while, before returning to the game he loved as a coach at Defensa and Quilmes, while his latest post was as a Technical Director at Cordoba club Talleres.
Ricardo lives on his ranch in Roque Perez and is happy working the cattle on it, where he lives with his wife. The couple have four grown up children (three daughters and a son).
The genial giant is often back at the ground and this humble, unassuming hero will always have a place in the fans hearts, as well as the history books.