Saturday, September 23, 2006
His name should be familiar to World Cup buffs, if no one else. It is Ariel Ortega.
Ortega, el burrito ("the little donkey") to his admirers, is a quick, wonderfully inventive inside-forward, who starred at the 1998 World Cup and may well have done so in 2002 as well, had he not been foolishly deployed on the wing by then Argentina manager Marcelo Bielsa.
Ortega terrorized inferior defences at the 1998 tournament, scoring two fine goals against Jamaica and combining smoothly with the priceless Gabriel Batistuta (now resident in Australia himself) throughout.
In the memorable quarter-final against Holland, the elusive little striker gave the highly-rated Dutch defence (Jaap Stam and Frank de Boer were the centre-halves, for the record) a stern test indeed, especially after the Dutch had gone down to ten men in the second half. It could be said that the turning point in that game was the dismissal of Ortega himself, for viciously head-butting Edwin van der Sar.
And there we come to the dark side of the “little donkey”. He is notoriously indisciplined both on and off the field; most notably, he simply walked out on the Turkish club Fenerbahce in 2003, and was banned for over a year by FIFA for his troubles.
And yet, for all that, he might be worth a punt. He is a marvellously entertaining player (not to mention a highly effective one), and given a supportive environment and a regular paycheck, he would be a sure crowd-puller.
Currently he is back in Argentina at his boyhood club, River Plate. But his manager is the legendarily authoritarian Daniel Passarella, and the two have already clashed. The odds on that relationship turning sour must be pretty short.
Worth a thought?
Put it this way, Ortega would be a wiser choice of marquee/guest than one Stan Collymore. I'm not privy to information on Con Constantine's intake of illicit substances, but there is little doubt now....
Totally agreed. Les was arguing for giving Collymore a go in his latest TWG piece, but I just can't see it. Out of football for five years and just as likely to end up in jail as on the top scorers chart - not worth it.
...I'm not privy to information on Con Constantine's intake of illicit substances, but there is little doubt now....
Ortega was being courted for quite a bit of dosh last year by Red Star Belgrade (500K euros+ is what I heard) and he refused.
I'd LOVE to see him here (as well as Dhorasoo and Sabri) but I can't see it realistically happening in a financial sense.
...Ortega was being courted for quite a bit of dosh last year by Red Star Belgrade (500K euros+ is what I heard) and he refused....
Well, no offence to Belgrade, but I reckon the quality of life in Sydney might be a bit better... ;-)
Probably a pipedream, it's true. But he's the sort of player I think could really light up the league.