Nicknamed ‘El Burrito’ or ‘The Little Donkey’, Ariel Arnaldo Ortega is an Argentine footballer, who plays as an attacking midfielder. Currently playing for Independiente Rivadavia, Ortega has played for many clubs such as Newell’s Old Boys, Parma, Valencia, Fenerbahce and Sampdoria in the past.

Ortega has participated in the Argentinian national team 97 times, and during these appearances he scored 19 goals in total, till 2008. Apart from these matches, he has also appeared with the national team in the 1994, 1998 and 2002 World Cup and for the 1996 Summer Olympics, when the team won a silver medal.

During his prime, Ortega was mostly known as the best dribbler in the world as well as his lobbed shots. Over the years he has managed to make a name for himself for his incredible pace and his impeccable ability to turn around dead ball situations, apart from his impressive dribbling skill. But all this skill comes in a temperamental package, which includes a red card during the 1998 Word Cup quarter finals against Netherlands. The red card was a result of Ortega head butting Dutch goalkeeper, Edwin van de Sar, after a confrontation over a perceived dive. Argentina lost the match shortly after Ortega left the field.

Position Midfielder
Height / weight 0.0 m /
Born 4 Mar 1974
Nationality Argentina Argentina
Nickname El Burrito
Team History
Defensores de Belgrano Defensores de Belgrano 2011 - 2012 (loan)
Club Atletico River Plate Club Atletico River Plate 2006 - 2012
All Boys 2011 (loan)
Club Sportivo Independiente Rivadavia Club Sportivo Independiente Rivadavia 2008 - 2009 (loan)
Club Atletico Newell's Old Boys Old Boys 2004 - 2006
Fenerbahçe S.K. (football) 2002 - 2003
Club Atletico River Plate Club Atletico River Plate 2000 - 2002
Parma Calcio 1913 1999 - 2000
Sampdoria Sampdoria 1998 - 1999
Valencia CF Valencia 1997 - 1998
Club Atletico River Plate Club Atletico River Plate 1991 - 1996

This quality of his, disallowed an association with any club for long periods of time. In 2003, Ortega resigned his contract with Fenerbahce, and was suspended by FIFA for a period of one and a half years. He tried to acquire a chance to play for River Plate during his suspension period, but to no avail. In 2004, after his suspension period ended, Ortega joined up with Newell’s Old Boys instead of River Plate. This decision was made as Americo Gallego, Newell’s coach at that time, and also a good friend of Ortega, had asked him to join. They went on to win the 2004 Apertura.

After two years, in 2006, Ortega returned to River Plate, where once again luck did not serve the footballer well. He played only half the season, and soon entered rehab for alcoholism. He returned in 2007, but during the Mar del Plata season, Ortega had a relapse, following a great game. He soon returned to rehab in Buenos Aires, and was brought out by Coach Daniel Passarella.

He sat on the bench for the 2007 Copa Libertadores match against LDU Quito, and only entered the field for the second half against Quilmes, three days later. He scored a controversial goal in the second half of the game, leading River Plate to victory and marking his comeback.

The change of coach, with Diego Simeone taking over, marked a change of direction for Ortega. Believed to have enjoyed some ‘protections’ from the previous coach, Ortega now found himself out of the team for the coming season, despite a splendid performance in the Clausura 2008 title win. Simeone cited lack of punctuality, absenteeism from training sessions and several bouts of alcoholism for his decision. Finally during the winter window, Ortega was sold to Independiente Rivadavia, a Nacional B club, for one year. One of the terms of the contract is two trips in a week to a Chilean Special Treatment Center for alcoholics.

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