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Backing the bid

Ossie joins England's World Cup bid

September 17, 2009
By Harry Harris
(Archive)

Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa have proudly accepted invitations to join the 'foreign' support for England's 2018 World Cup bid - and the man who opened the floodgates for overseas stars in the country in 1978 believes the tournament will come to English shores.

• Maradona goes AWOL as Argentina falter

Ossie Ardiles
GettyImagesArdiles is backing his former side to progress.

Ardiles told ESPN Soccernet: "I have received a letter from Lord Triesman inviting me to join the bid team and I have accepted. Lord Triesman asked if Ricky would be interested to also help out, and he is delighted to.

"Ricky and I consider England to be our home, certainly the home of football, and although Ricky lives in Argentina now he comes over all the time and will be returning yet again next month. I am honoured to be asked and will do all I can to support the bid. In fact I believe that England will win the bid process.

"English football has the best stadia, the best supporters creating the best atmosphere, and players from all over the world, just like myself, love playing in English football given the chance."

Ardiles sipped a fine bottle of Argentinean red, a robust La Colonia, a Cabernet Sauvignon in Langans Brasserie, and he also believes England have a good chance of winning the World Cup in South Africa under Fabio Capello but, realistically, places them as third favourites behind Brazil and Spain.

Ardiles, who happily signed a copy of my latest book Down Memory Lane, for restaurant owner Richard Shepherd, argued: "England have a chance, but I must admit I feel there is a gap in class between England and my two favourites Brazil and Spain, so I would have to place England as third favourites.

"But I recall when FIFA invited all the World Cup winners, and there I was rubbing shoulders with the Boys of '66 like Bobby Charlton, it was a great thrill for me. I still love English football, and I feel it is universally loved.

"But the trouble in England is that whenever a World Cup comes along the hype in the media raises expectations among the supporters and it is always 'yeh, we will win it!' But, for me, England has not really been up to it, not good enough in recent times to have won the World Cup. Yep, they are up to it now, but Brazil and Spain will be the teams for England to beat in South Africa."

• Harry Harris has twice won the British Sports Journalist of the Year award. His book Down Memory Lane is now available.