ricardo villa - fact file

1978 - 1983        forward/midfielder

FULL NAME :   Ricardo Julio Villa

Born on 18th August 1952 in Roque Perez, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Height : - .m  (' ")

Weight : -  - kgs    (st lbs)

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.




Career Record
Club Signed Fee Debut Apps Goals
Quilmes (Argentina) 1970 ?? ??  108 20
San Martin du Tucuman (Argentina) 1973 Loan ??  10 3
Atletico de Tucuman (Argentina) 1974 ?? ??  51 9
Racing Club (Argentina) 1976 ?? ??  52 6
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR July 1978 ?? August 1978 v Nottingham Forest (Division One) (away)  drew 1-1  Scored once 168 + 11 as a sub 25
Fort Lauderdale Strikers (USA) 1983 ?? ??  19 3
Deportivo Cali (Colombia) 1984 ?? ??  0 0
Defensa y Justicia (Argentina) 1986 ?? ??  93 4
- ?? ?? ??  ?? ??

Career Record
Quilmes (Argentina)
- League appearances; goals
- Cup appearances; goals
San Martin du Tucuman (Argentina) 
- League appearances; goals
- Cup appearances; goals
Atletico de Tucuman (Argentina)
- League appearances; goals
- Cup appearances; goals
Racing Club (Argentina)
- League appearances; goals
- FA Cup appearances; goals
- League Cup appearances; goals
European appearances; goals
124 + 9 as a sub League appearances; 18 goals
21 FA Cup appearances; 3 goals
15 + 1 as a sub League Cup appearances; 3 goals
8 + 1 as a sub European appearances; 1 goal
Fort Lauderdale Strikers (USA)
- League appearances; goals
- Cup appearances; goals
Deportivo Cali (Colombia)
- League appearances; goals
- Cup appearances; goals
Defensa y Justicia (Argentina)

- League appearances; goals
- Cup appearances; goals

Argentina international
25 full caps;  1 goal
?? Under-21 caps; ?? goals
World Cup winners medal 1978
FA Cup winners medal 1980-81  (THFC)
League Cup runners-up medal 1982-83  (THFC)

- appearance


28.11.2010  (Sunday Times)

What was the best moment of your career ?
There are three.
First was scoring a memorable goal for a small club in Argentina.  It opened the door for me.  I was playing for Club Atletico San Martin in October 1973 and scored against River Plate, beating two defenders and the goalkeeper.  Although we lost 3-2, everybody was talking about my goal.
The second was helping Argentina win the 1978 World Cup at home.  I didn't play i the final, which was a bit disappointing, but I was part of the squad and that was a big moment for me.  I came on as a half-time substitute against Poland and Brazil.  At least I played,  Winning the World Cup in your own country is very special.
The third moment was scoring the winning goal in the FA Cup final replay for Tottenham against Manchester City in 1981.  It was an important goal for the club, the supporters and my team-mates.  I realise now how important.  Nearly 30 years later people are still talking about it whenever I visit England.  The English are special for me because everybody is proud of their clubs and the history of English football,  I have a place in history because of the goal.  That is a nice feeling.  Before every game I would think about scoring great goals.  That was my dream.  I played for 15 years and remember only two goals in my career.  Scoring a goal like that at the home of football was something special.
And the worst ?
Breaking my knee ligaments.  I was playing for Tottenham in a FA Cup tie against Liverpool at White Hart Lane when Graeme Souness and I went for a 50-50 ball.  I got there first but my knee took the impact of his fair tackle.  I feared the worst and there was the thought that I might not play again but, fortunately, I recovered in six months.  Another unhappy moment for me was in the FA Cup final against Manchester City.  I played either well or very badly, never in between.  In the final, I had a shocker and was substituted after an hour.  I was so disappointed that I simply walked to the changing room in tears.  Everybody now compares my performance in the first game with the replay.
Who was the best player you played against ?
Roberto Rivelino of Brazil.  He was the perfect player with a sweet left foot.  Fortunately, I only played against him once, that was enough.  Kenny Dalglish was the best player in the English League.  Hew as a good team player and I appreciated the moves he made.
Who was your best coach?
Cesar Menotti, who was in charge of Argentina when we won the World Cup.  He liked to play attractive, attacking football.  His instructions were always clear and he gave players confidence and belief.  When we played badly, he had the ability to help us regain our confidence.  He played a Brazilian-style football, which I enjoyed.  Nowadays too many teams play a style that emphasises not losing.  That's why I like watching Barcelona play.
Which was the best stadium?
The old Wembley because of the special memories.  I am unhappy because I hoped England would keep the old Wembley.
Which was the worst stadium?
In the Second Division in Argentina early in my career we played in some very bad stadiums, particularly in the poorer parts of Buenos Aires.  There would be no water in the changing rooms and the pitches were rock hard.  The football played was like a war.
What was the funniest moment ?
When I first arrived in England I didn't understand a word of English.  Ossie Ardiles and I were training with 30 other players and had to copy everything the others did because we did not understand the instructions.  Looking back it was a funny time.  It has taken me 30 years to understand English.
Where are you now ?
I am 58 and live in Roque Perez, near Buenos Aires.  I have a ranch and am pleased to live in the place where I was born.  I have great memories of my childhood and have football to thank for giving me a chance to live comfortably.  The ranch is 2,000 acres, not big in Argentina.  I have about 300 cattle and am doing quite well growing soya, which we sell to China and India.  I live with my wife Cristina and we have four grown-up children, three daughters and a son.  Maru has a degree in political science, Martina is a doctor, Mariana is a psychologist and Ricky (there is not only one Ricky Villa) studies agricultural engineering.
I watch football on TV, including the English league and play tennis and golf.  The English taught me how to play golf but I have never been very good at it.  I prefer tennis.  I am still good friends with Ossie Ardiles and stay at his house in England whenever I visit.



What they said about Ricardo Villa
Ossie Ardiles on ... the arrival of Ricardo Villa and himself at Tottenham ...  24.02.2008 (Daily Mail)

"I adapted a lot quicker than Ricky.  I moved around a lot.  He was a lazy bastard, waiting for players to give him the ball.  And they wouldn't.  I said to our captain, Steve Perryman: 'Just give the ball to Ricky !'  The first time Steve passed to him, Ricky tried to beat his man, lost the ball and the opponents counter-attacked and almost scored.  Steve turned to me and said: 'See !  That's why I don't give the ball to Ricky !' "

John Lacy on ... Villa's display in League Cup tie against Arsenal on 04.11.1980 (THFC programme)

"Ricky was man of the match that night I think.  Certainly it was an display of attacking football from him and a lot of the good things we did that night went through him.  What should be said about Ricky is that he fought very hard for the team and would do a lot of defensive work for the side too.

Ricky and Ossie were very popular in the changing room and I remain good friends with them both to this day. I saw Ricky this summer and I regularly talk football and play golf with Ossie, who lives nearby."

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What Ricardo Villa said about ...
... foreign players in English football ...  24.02.2008 (Daily Mail)

"There are too many foreigners in England (football).  There has to be a limit as the national team suffer.  Sometimes I feel sorry for England players.  It's the best league, but sometimes it's difficult for them to play in it."

... coaching of players in English football ...  24.02.2008 (Daily Mail)

"The touch of the English players is not bad, but when they receive the ball, they are not thinking about the next pass.  It's an easy ball, they are not thinking about the next pass.  It's an easy ball or long ball.  You have to pass the ball many times to create space."

... the arrival of Ossie Ardiles and himself at Tottenham ...  24.02.2008 (Daily Mail)

"When we arrived in the dressing room there were 30 people looking at us and the people looked at me and Ossie like aliens.  It was strange.  It was not always happy at the start.  It was all long ball and support, forget about passing in the middle of the pitch.  The players never passed it to me.  It was a very difficult time for me."

... the way he played in the Tottenham team when he first arrived ...  24.02.2008 (Daily Mail)

"I can only play one kind of football; give me the ball and I can do good things or a mistake.  With 30 balls maybe I can do five or ten things.  I took the risks and sometimes I lost the ball."

the FA Cup final 1981 ... ("And Still Ricky Villa" autobiography)

"Call it good management or just good luck, but that decision to back me was pivotal on more than one level.  It went some way in determining the outcome of the FA Cup that year.  And it went a long way to determining my legacy : if Keith (Burkinshaw) had left me out, I'm not sure that anyone would be interested in reading my story right now."

on coming to London and English football ... ("And Still Ricky Villa" autobiography)

"I was very lazy and as Ossie spoke better English than me, I'd ask him to do everything for me.  It was an unbelievably difficult time and I felt very isolated.  It was 1978 don't forget and there was no internet to find out what was going on back home, no mobile phones and no Sat Nav.  We were always getting lost around London with Ossie driving and me reading the map. We ended up taking the bus or the train everywhere as it was much easier !"

on his place in the team ...  .. ("And Still Ricky Villa" autobiography)

"Keith Burkinshaw asked me if I could play on the left side of midfield and I told him I could, but I only knew how to play the Argentinian way.  In England, the left-sided player has to run up and down the pitch for the whole of the match, but I couldn't do that.  Keith then tried me at centre-forward as I was tall and had good ball control, but that didn't work as the ball was always up in the air and I struggled.  In the end, Keith gave me a free role behind the strikers and it was perfect my natural position."

on Tony Galvin ... ("And Still Ricky Villa" autobiography)

"Tony (Galvin) maybe didn't quite have the same quality as Ossie (Ardiles) or Glenn (Hoddle).  But he was a very important player in our side. He worked very hard for the team and did the running for Glenn and I.  We needed him in the side to keep the balance right."

on Gareth Bale ...  ("And Still Ricky Villa" autobiography)

"I watched Gareth Bale against the Italians (Internazionale) and he was amazing. He really has great potential and if he continues to play like that people will soon be comparing him with Ronaldo and Messi.  There aren't many people in the world football that can win a match on their own, but Bale is in that category.  It's good for Tottenham as the fans like watching players that can get them off their seat with a magical moment."

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For other articles on Ricardo Villa
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Books on Ricardo Villa
"... And Still Ricky Villa - My Autobiography"  by Ricky Villa with Joel Miller and Federico Ardiles.  Foreword by Ossie Ardiles. (Vision Sports Publishing)  2010   ISBN-10: 1905326890       ISBN-13: 978-1905326891

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