A competitive and skilled midfielder, Ardiles became a cult hero in England, along with Glenn Hoddle and compatriot Ricardo Villa, as a player for Tottenham Hotspur. He left England for a period on loan as a result of the outbreak of the Falklands War in 1982, thus missing most of the 1982–83 English season.
After retirement, Ardiles began his management career in England, coaching Swindon Town, Newcastle United and West Bromwich Albion, before returning to Tottenham to become the first Premier League manager from outside of the British Isles . As manager of Spurs in the mid-1990s, he played several matches utilizing a formation that had five forwards, a formation that hadn't been used in English football since the 1950s. During his career, Ardiles has also coached in Mexico, Croatia, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Paraguay and his native Argentina.
In Ireland he is a pundit for RTÉ Sport.
Ardiles was born in Córdoba Province, Argentina, and played for Instituto de Córdoba from a young age. As a youngster, Ardiles played football in the streets and was given the nickname Pitón (python) by his brother because of his snake-like dribbling skills. He was named as El Gráfico's best player of the interior in 1974, and abandoned his law degree studies in order to play professional football.
He also played for Club Atlético Belgrano and Huracán. After the 1978 World Cup he moved to England to play for Tottenham where he spent ten seasons.
He helped Tottenham win the FA Cup in his third season there (1980–81), and collaborated with pop duo Chas & Dave as well as the rest of the Tottenham players for a song, "Ossie's Dream". He played a big part in another FA Cup triumph the following year, but did not play in the final because it had already been arranged with the Spurs management that he would leave early to join up with Argentina's 1982 World Cup squad. At that tournament he wore the number 1 shirt, as Argentina's policy at the time was to number their players alphabetically by surname, with an exception made so Diego Maradona could wear his preferred number 10.
In the wake of the Falklands War between Britain and Argentina it became difficult for him to return to White Hart Lane and he went on loan to Paris Saint-Germain in France. After just one season in Paris, he returned to Tottenham, helping the club to win the UEFA Cup in 1984 (coming on as a substitute in the second leg of the final). In the autumn of 1987, he was caretaker manager of Tottenham between the resignation of David Pleat and the appointment of Terry Venables. He left Spurs in 1988.
He then played for Blackburn Rovers, Queens Park Rangers and Swindon Town, before being appointed as manager of Swindon Town in July 1989. He played part of the 1989 American Soccer League season with the Fort Lauderdale Strikers.
On 7 February 2008 Ossie Ardiles, along with his fellow countryman Ricardo Villa, was inducted into the Tottenham Hotspur Hall of Fame.
Ardiles was called up to the Argentina senior team by manager César Luis Menotti in 1975. He was a member of the World Cup winning squad in 1978.
In July 1989, Ardiles moved into football management with second division Swindon Town when Lou Macari resigned to join West Ham in July 1989. He wowed fans by replacing the long ball style which had been so successful with a new "Samba style", which saw the Town playing attacking football. Part of this change was the new "diamond formation" which Ardiles implemented: a 4–4–2 style with left-sided, right-sided, attacking and defensive midfielders.
Ten months after he had joined, Ardiles led Swindon to their highest ever league position, finishing fourth in the second division. After beating Blackburn in the first leg of the play-off semi-final, the fans paid tribute with a tickertape reception in the second leg. Swindon went on to win promotion to the top flight for the first time in their history—beating Sunderland in the Play-Off Final—only to have the promotion taken from them ten days later, when the Football League demoted them for irregular payments to players.
The following season, Ardiles was told to sell players to keep the club alive and Wembley hero Alan McLoughlin was the first big-money departure. With Swindon rocked by their pre-season troubles, their form deserted them. By the end of February, relegation threatened, and when Newcastle offered Ardiles the chance to become their new boss, he accepted, becoming the club's first foreign manager. But his time on Tyneside was not a success and he lasted 12 months in the job before being sacked, with the Magpies bottom of the second division, though they achieved safety under his successor Kevin Keegan.
In June 1992 Ardiles replaced Bobby Gould as manager of West Bromwich Albion, who had just missed out on the third division playoffs in 1991–92. At the end of the 1992–93 season, Ardiles guided Albion to victory over Port Vale in the Division Two playoff final. Shortly afterwards he walked out of the Hawthorns to return his former club Tottenham as manager, but his management spell was nowhere near as successful as his spell as a player. Tottenham finished 15th in the Premiership and despite the expensive acquisition of Jürgen Klinsmann, Ilie Dumitrescu and Gheorghe Popescu in the 1994 close season, Ardiles was sacked in October 1994 with Tottenham languishing in the bottom half of the Premier League. They had just been punished for financial irregularities committed during the late 1980s: with a 1-year FA Cup ban, £600,000 fine and 12 league points deducted. The punishment was later amended to a £1.5million fine and six points deducted but the FA Cup ban and points deduction were later quashed.
Ardiles became coach of J. League Division 1 side Yokohama F. Marinos in January 2000, but was sacked in June 2001 following a poor start to the season. From 2003 to 2005 he coached Tokyo Verdy, with whom he won the 2004 Emperor's Cup. But in July 2005 he was fired after a nine-game winless streak. In mid-2006 he moved to Israel to coach Beitar Jerusalem, from which he quit after only a few months in charge on 18 October 2006 due to severe differences of opinion with the club's board of directors. After a small break he was appointed Club Atlético Huracán manager in his native Argentina in September 2007, he steered the club to 7th in the table before resigning at the end of the Apertura 2007.
He joined Paraguayan club Cerro Porteño in May 2008 but was sacked in August of the same year after a string of poor results and was replaced by Pedro Troglio.
Ardiles was enlisted by RTÉ Sport for their squad of pundits ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. He returned to RTÉ's team for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
Ardiles played Carlos Rey in the 1981 World War II film Escape to Victory.Escape to Victory (1981) - Carlos Rey (French prisoner) - Allied Soccer Player - The Players: Argentina
He married Silvia Navarro in December 1973.
In January 2014, Ardiles and Ricardo Villa were involved in a car crash in the Falkland Islands during the filming of Camilo Antolini's 30 for 30 documentary White, Blue and White. Ardiles sustained minor injuries in the accident, and required more than 20 stitches in his head.He won 63 caps for Argentina's national team, including playing in the victorious FIFA World Cup winning squad of 1978.
Osvaldo Ardiles won the FA Cup in 1981 and the UEFA Cup in 1984 with Tottenham Hotspur as a player.
Promoted Swindon Town to old Division One (now Premier League) in 1990 as manager although the team were relegated for financial irregularities.
Promoted West Bromwich Albion to Division One as manager in 1993.
Won Nabisco Cup with Shimizu S-Pulse as manager in 1996.
Won Tokai Cup with Shimizu S-Pulse as manager in 1996 and 1998.
Champion J-League First Stage with Yokohama F. Marinos in 2000 as manager.
Emperor's Cup Winner 2004–05 with Tokyo Verdy as manager.
He is the only Argentinian to be included in the Football League 100 Legends list.
Named Football League First Division PFA Team of the Year in 1979 as player.
Named Golden Foot in 2013 as football legend.
Named J. League Manager of the Year in 1998.