Ariel Ortega was born on 4 March 1974 in Jujuy, Argentina, he made his debut for River Plate in 1991. He won 3 league titles, played alongside the great Leonardo Astrada, Hernán Crespo and Enzo Francescoli with the club and was part of the squad that won River's second Copa Libertadores in 1996.
Following this success he moved to European football where he played for Valencia, Sampdoria and Parma.
He was often described as the "new Maradona" as he filled the talented creative midfielder role and the famous number 10 shirt for Argentina in the 1998 World Cup. The team were eliminated in the Quarter Finals with Ortega sent off in the 87th minute and Denis Bergkamp scoring his memorable last minute winner. Ortega took much of the blame for Argentina's poor performance.
In 2000 he returned to River Plate where he won another league title. In 2002 he joined Turkish side Fenerbahçe, but he didn't settle, breaking his contract with the club to return to Argentina. He was heavily fined and banned from playing football until the end of 2003 for breach of contract.
When Ortega did return to the football field it was for Newell's Old Boys, he played an instrumental role in helping the club win the Apertura 2004 tournament, their first title in 12 years.
Following his success at Newell's he returned to River Plate for a 3rd stint with the club, winning yet another league title in 2008. Shortly after this he had a bust up with manager Diego Simeone and was sent out on loan to 2nd division side Independiente Rivadavia, while he was away River endured their worst season ever finishing in 20th position, bottom of the table for the first time in 107 years of history. Simeone resigned and Ortega returned to River where he still plays aged 36.
Ortega never lived up to the "new Maradona" tag, but his haul of 5 Argentina league championships, 1 Copa Libertadores medal and 88 caps and 17 goals for Argentina, show that he was still a great player and his ability to chip goalkeepers is a joy to behold.