Sat 02 April 2022 | 4:30

Top facts about Ariel Ortega, El Burrito

While heroes like Maradona and Juan Román Riquelme had become legends at rivals Boca Juniors, Ortega became a legend at El Monumental with River Plate. Read on to find out more facts about Ariel Ortega.

Ariel Arnaldo Ortega (born March 4, 1974) is a former Argentine professional footballer who played attacking midfield. "El Burrito" (The Little Donkey) is his nickname, hence he's known as "Burrito Ortega."

Ariel Ortega’s age

is 47. Here, you can learn all the important facts about Ariel Ortega, the euphoria between talent and temperament.

The first fact about Ariel Ortega is that he made his debut for Club Atlético River Plate on December 14, 1991, and stayed with the club until 1996, returning in 2000–02, 2006–08, and 2009–11.

Fenerbahçe, Parma, Sampdoria, Valencia, and Newell's Old Boys are among Ortega's previous clubs. Ortega was a member of the

Argentina national team

in the World Cups in 1994, 1998, and 2002. He was also a part of the 1996 Summer Olympics silver-medal winning squad.

Upon the arrival of

Diego Simeone

as head coach of River, Ortega allegedly lost some "protections" he was rumored to have and, despite being an important part of the team that achieved the Clausura 2008 title, Simeone left him out of the squad for the upcoming season, reasoning his decision on Ortega having several times not come to train as well as some episodes of alcoholism.

His story is more of tale of failure than one success but his failed stints with Valencia and Parma have been a reflection of how much he felt at home at River Plate.

Top facts about Ariel Ortega:

He is regarded as one of the most unbalanced players in Argentine football history. He was notable for his great technical quality and ease of dribbling, with a very distinct style based on sudden hooks and changes of pace when eluding, as well as his ease in defining Vaseline.

Ariel Ortega early life

Ariel Ortega was born in a dustbowl village near the Bolivian border twenty years before that day in 1994. He grew up in the dirty badlands of Ledesma, copying River great Ramón Diaz, feinting and dribbling through pick-up games on the rocky potrero outside his house.

Speaking about

Ariel Ortega’s childhood

, it should be mentioned that he participated in a local football event organized by River Plate to discover youthful potential when he was 16 years old.

They discovered a genius. "There were 500 men," Ortega recalls. "I seized the ball and refused to hand it over to anybody." I did well and was asked to return."

River was in the midst of one of their most prosperous periods in their history at the time. They had won their first Libertadores and the intercontinental championship in 1986. Two years later, Daniel Passarella took over as manager of one of Argentina's most illustrious clubs, commanded by probably the country's best ever captain.

Passarella saw something unusual in Ortega very quickly. The scruffy Jujeo was a bashful youngster with a cocky skill, and the coach took a fatherly interest in his well-being, placing his first salary into a bank account on his behalf.

Ortega would only realize the magnitude of Passarella's effect in later years, when his future sins caught up with his ability, confessing that "he was not simply a technician, he cared a lot."

The 17-year-old, on the other hand, was only interested in playing football at the time. He immediately returned Passarella's confidence, scoring on his debut against Platense and going on to play in a squad that won three championships and River's second Libertadores by 1996.

Ariel Ortega personal life

An important fact about Ariel Ortega is that he was married to Danesa Molineris from 1998 to 2013. The former couple have 3 children. Because if his personal issues, they decided to separate.

Ariel Ortega professional career

Ortega started his professional career with Daniel Passarella's River Plate in 1991 and during the seasons that followed he'd play alongside other talented youngsters Marcelo Gallardo and Hernán Crespo, as well as legendary River Plate old boys Enzo Francescoli and Ramón Díaz.

With his dribbling skills, vision, dynamic style, and a confidence on the ball that bordered on arrogance, it wasn't long before the inevitable comparisons were being made with Diego Maradona, and Ortega was seen as a likely heir to the national team's number 10 throne as he continued to master the enganche role, he even had the fiery temperament to go with it too.

Ariel Ortega club career

Ortega started his professional football career with River Plate in Argentina in 1991. He won the Primera División, as well as the Copa Libertadores, with the team in 1991, 1993, 1994, and 1996. He was beaten by


in the 1996 Intercontinental Cup final.

Valencia CF

In 1996, Ortega departed Argentina. He played for

Valencia CF

for 2 seasons until joining Sampdoria in 1998 for 23 billion Italian lire (£8 million), replacing Juan Sebastián Verón.

Parma AC

A notable fact about Ariel Ortega is that he joined Parma AC after the club was demoted to Serie B, reuniting with national and previous club teammate Hernán Crespo, and replacing Verón, who had gone for Lazio. Sampdoria received 28 billion lire (£9.4 million) from Parma.

River Plate

However, he returned to Argentina with River Plate the next season to make up for outstanding 12 billion lire transfer fees owed to Crespo. (The ten percent transfer fee paid to Lazio) Claudio Husan is also a member of the team.

For a reported 5.5 million dollars, River Plate purchased 50% of Ortega's registration rights. Ortega was sold for 11 billion lire, according to Parma AC's annual report with the Italian government.


Fenerbahçe signed Ortega from River Plate in May 2002 for a cost of US$7,500,000 (US$2,500,000 went to Parma). Fenerbahçe also paid an additional $1,500,000 for his image rights. Ortega agreed to a four-year deal. He was one of the team's most important players, scoring five goals in 14 games.

An important

fact about Ariel Ortega

is that he had not returned from international duty since February 12, 2003, and


were compelled to submit a protest with FIFA in April 2003.

In June 2003, the FIFA Dispute Resolution Committee (DRC) ordered Ortega to pay Fenerbahçe USD 11,000,000 in compensation and suspended him until December 30, 2003 for breaching an employment contract.

In July 2003, Ortega filed an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport, but the case was rejected on November 5, 2003. Ortega was suspended for four months from that day forward. He was without a club after the suspension.

Back to Argentina

When he was eventually able to return to football in 2004, he joined Newell's Old Boys after being contacted by his buddy Américo Gallego, who was the coach at the time. As part of the settlement for what Ortega owes Fenerbahçe, Newell paid an undisclosed amount to the Turkish team. They were the winners of the Apertura 2004.

He returned to his original club, River Plate, in June 2006, and played for approximately half of the Apertura 2006 before withdrawing to seek treatment for alcoholism.

In January 2007, during River Plate's pre-season in Mar del Plata, and only one day after scoring a goal, he had another alcoholic episode, prompting River Plate's doctors to advise the coach that Ortega should return to Buenos Aires to begin therapy for his issue.

A notable fact about Ariel Ortega is that he was eventually brought back by Coach Daniel Passarella, who said that he was ready for a return. Ortega was a member of River's bench for a Copa Libertadores 2007 encounter against LDU Quito on March 15, 2007, but was not given the opportunity to participate.

Three days later, in a league encounter against Quilmes, he came in in the second half to assist break through the opposition team's defense in a close 0–0 game. In the 93rd minute, Ortega scored a contentious goal with his hand to give River the win and himself a spectacular comeback.

Upon the arrival of

Diego Simeone

as River's head coach, Ortega allegedly lost some "protections" he was rumored to have and, despite being a key member of the team that won the Clausura 2008 title, Simeone left him out of the squad for the upcoming season, citing Ortega's failure to show up for training several times as well as some episodes of alcoholism as reasons for his decision.

He was loaned to Nacional B side Independiente Rivadavia after considerable controversy and rumours in the winter window of the Argentine market, signing a one-year deal that included a twice-week trip to a Chilean Special Treatment Center for alcoholics.

Officials from Independiente fired him on May 1, 2009. The team made the decision to terminate his contract early. River Plate had loaned Ortega to them. On his return to River Plate, he scored an excellent chip shot goal in the preseason to give River a 1–0 win against

Everton F.C.

of England in Edmonton, Canada.

An important

fact about Ariel Ortega

is that he scored a stunning lobbed goal against Chacarita Juniors in the 2009 Apertura to give River Plate a 4–3 win. He scored a last-minute equalizer against Estudiantes later in the competition.

Ortega started River's first two games in the 2010 Clausura, but had another alcoholic relapse and missed the following ten games until returning in the 13th round of fixtures against Newell's Old Boys. He was loaned to Defensores de Belgrano in 2011.

Ariel Ortega international career

Ortega was a member of the 1994 World Cup team. When Argentina was knocked out of the tournament by Romania on July 3, 1994, he made his starting eleven debut. He also represented Argentina in the 1995 King Fahd Cup final, and he earned a Silver Olympic medal in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

It was Ortega's first World Cup as an established star, and he was given the #10 jersey for the 1998 FIFA World Cup, where he was anticipated to bear the role as the team's playmaker.

A notable fact about Ariel Ortega is that he was most famous for his sending-off in the quarter-finals against the


, despite excelling in the early stages to be considered a favorite for player of the tournament.

Ortega was given a second yellow card for head-butting Dutch goalkeeper

Edwin van der Sar

after van der Sar challenged him after Ortega had got his first yellow card for a dive in the penalty area. Shortly after Ortega's dismissal, Dennis Bergkamp scored the game-winning goal, putting Argentina out of contention 2–1.

Ortega was also a part of the 2002 World Cup team. Despite the fact that Argentina was knocked out in the first round when Ortega missed a penalty against Sweden, which was then followed up and put into the back of the goal by Hernan Crespo, the outcome meant that Argentina was knocked out in the first round.

An important

fact about Ariel Ortega

is that he was recalled to the Argentina national first-team squad on September 24, 2009, although it was reported a few days later that Ariel Ortega would miss the friendly match against Ghana due to an injury he sustained during the weekend in the Argentine Domestic League.

Ortega was called up again in April 2010, 17 years after his Argentina debut, this time to face Haiti.

Diego Maradona

's team consisted entirely of players from Argentina's Primera División. On May 5, he was in the starting XI for the encounter.

Ariel Ortega style of play

A notable fact about Ariel Ortega is that he was a very creative player with exceptional technical ability who was recognized for his speed, movement, dribbling, and dead ball abilities, as well as his ball trickery, brilliant body feints, and lobbed shots.

He was one of the finest dribblers in the world in his time; generally used as an offensive midfielder, Ortega was an efficient playmaker because to his vision and passing abilities, earning him comparisons to Maradona as a teenager.

Ortega was known for his rage as much as his talents, and he was chastised throughout his career for not living up to his potential.

Ariel Ortega River Plate legacy

Undefeated. As River Plate supporters marched into La Bombonera on December 11, 1994, there was the phrase on their lips. Los Millonarios have never won a title without losing a game in their 93-year existence.

Those bold enough to go from the northern barrios realized they had nothing to fear when the fireworks hissed and Boca supporters jeered.

Their squad had gone undefeated under Américo Gallego all season, and this, the Apertura's last game, was the final test before their coronation against Vélez Sarsfield. This was more than just a Superclásico; it was an opportunity to write history.

River had been dominant throughout the year, with Enzo Francescoli's fading magnificence aided by a slew of Argentina's best players. Although Roberto Ayala and Marcelo Gallardo were bound for greatness, they were no match for the 20-year-old force of nature on the right side of the field.

The Little Donkey, El Burrito, was already causing a stir. Everyone knew it was Ariel Ortega's day when Néstor Fabbri scythed him down for a penalty on 14 minutes.

The spot-kick was taken by Francescoli, but River's season came to a close 10 minutes later. Gallardo had gone infield and sent a pass to Ernesto Cort, who had sliced between two Boca players to find Ortega unmarked on the left side.

He chested the ball onto his path after receiving it slightly behind him before smashing a half-volley beyond the despairing Carlos Navarro-Montoya.

The image of Orteguita ripping off his shirt in excitement would become one of the most treasured and respected among Millonarios supporters the globe over during the following two decades. He would go on to become one of the club's finest ever players in three different tenure. So, why is he such a puzzle?

The Monumental crowd were mesmerized by Ortega's acrobatic dribbling, as he fooled and feinted past defenses like an antelope dodging a pack of lions. As his stocky legs twisted one direction before carrying the ball in another, he embarrassed a slew of defenders.

He was just unplayable for large swaths of those early years, a fireball of skill and swagger blazing effortlessly past helpless opponents. The Europeans were just a matter of time until they started knocking.

Diego Maradona's move to


had set a global record over 20 years before. It was only logical, therefore, that his successor apparent become Argentina's most expensive player, joining Claudio Ranieri and Valencia to continue El Pibe's journey to LaLiga.

Ortega, unlike Maradona, would struggle in Spain. Los Che were a group of erratic technicians, and Ranieri was determined to instill discipline and tactical acumen in his motley crew of weak expressionists.

Ortega was an enganche in every way, a flammable playmaker capable of both frenzy and grandeur. His inability to follow instructions immediately earned him the wrath of his new boss.

He was soon demoted to the bench and subsequently dropped from the team. Ortega had already been judged surplus to requirements by the club's administration by the time he went for the 1998 World Cup in France.

The eyes were a touch too large, and the demeanor was a little too ferocious. Nobody could have been shocked when it was revealed that Maradona had tested positive for ephedrine after his wild celebrations against Greece. Argentina's talisman was sent home in disgrace from the 1994 World Cup, putting their championship in peril.

A bashful 20-year-old has been forced uncomfortably into the limelight, having been selected to fill the most colossal of shoes in the next match against Romania. Argentina's debut, predictably, had failed to impress, and they had bowed out of the tournament with a whimper.

Ortega was resolved to shine on his own terms when he landed in France four years later. Argentina was one of the favorites, with

Gabriel Batistuta

and Diego Simeone leading a group of world-class players towards the end of their careers.

None, though, would have a greater impact than the Valencia striker, who was involved in about 80% of his team's goals.

The climax came against Jamaica in the group round, when he scored two stunning shots that demonstrated his unearthly skill as the Reggae Boyz were thrashed 5-0. The scenario was set for Ortega to finally establish himself as one of the game’s finest when Argentina met the Netherlands in the quarter-finals.

Instead, the rest of the world saw his desire for self-destruction. He'd had a terrible day, being smothered by a Dutch defense that had been told to shut him down at all costs.

His emotions eventually came to a head, and he hurled himself at a puzzled Jaap Stam, hoping for a penalty. Arturo Brizio Carter, the Mexican referee, didn't believe it, and neither did Edwin van der Sar, who received a sharp headbutt to the chin for his protests.

Ortega was fired, and his compatriots were shortly to follow, thanks to a little of

Dennis Bergkamp

magic. Valencia's spokesperson jumped right into the media frenzy, snarling to the gathering journalists, "Ortega is like that." Ortega was "Decisive in Argentina, Useless in Valencia," according to a headline in El Pasion.

Despite his dramatic reaction, he had persuaded Sampdoria to accept a move. In Genoa, there were glimpses of brilliance – a brilliant chip against Inter's Gianluca Pagliuca was a particular highlight – but he was the lone bright spot for a club that was floundering under Luciano Spalletti.

David Platt was hired halfway through the season to halt what seemed to be an unstoppable slide. Gianluca Vialli dubbed Ortega the "future of football coaching," but he only lasted six games before being replaced by loan signing Lee Sharpe. The outcome was both embarrassing and unavoidable: Sampdoria was demoted, and Ortega was packing his belongings.

His proclivity for breaching the rules had already become well-known on the peninsula at this point. In December 1998, he was detained and breathalyzed with teammates Gastón Córdoba and Caté, the Brazilian, after a wild drinking binge in Rome that saw them scuffle with supporters outside a bar.

Ortega's transgressions, on the other hand, were insufficient to discourage another Italian team from taking a chance.


had recently won the UEFA Cup, and Alberto Malesani regarded the cheeky Sampdoria striker as the ideal successor for Juan Sebastián Verón, who had left for Lazio.

Ortega's third club in three years further added to his dissatisfaction. The Ducali had intended to form a partnership between Hernán Crespo and his fellow River graduate, but Hernán Crespo only scored three goals out of a total of 25 for the Ducali - the same amount as French utility player Alain Boghossian.

"I'm overjoyed once again." Before the first game of the 2000/01 season, Ortega was introduced as a River Plate player. Ortega returned to his spiritual home, in front of a throng that had previously admired his every move, as Parma cut their losses on the misfiring striker. For the first time in his career, he had perfect timing.

Ariel Ortega and Cuatro Fantasticos

River's legendary Cuatro Fantásticos were formed when Javier Saviola, Pablo Aimar, and Juan Pablo ngel joined forces with the newcomer. Under the tutelage of the returning Américo Gallego, the foursome was voracious, tearing teams apart.

Ortega and Aimar were assigned starting wing positions, taking advantage of Toto Berizzo and Claudio Husan's solid defensive instincts to raid infield against fearful Argentine defenses.

The issue was having all four players on the field at the same moment. They only played together on six occasions, and despite scoring almost 40 goals in fewer than 20 games, River's Galácticos would finish the season without a title.

It was a controversy, but Ortega didn't seem to mind. He was back at home and loving football, and his performances showed it. Even after Aimar and Saviola were stolen by Valencia and Barcelona, respectively, 23 goals in 56 games indicated a player who had recovered his mojo. Ortega became the only fantástico in 2002, securing the Clausura with the help of teenager Fernando Cavenaghi.

Finally, he seemed to be the same player who had lit up the World Cup four years before. Manchester United were connected with a bid, but it was Fenerbahçe who stumped up the $7.5 million needed to entice him away from the Monumental.

In retrospect, he may wish he hadn't gone. After landing in Istanbul for the first time, Ortega stated in his memoirs, "From the very first instant, I realized that this place wasn't for me." The language, cuisine, and culture of the Turkish capital rapidly became anathema to the homesick Argentine, who stated that his stay there "was like torment."

His problems were not solved by a goal in a 6-0 win against Galatasaray. He'd had enough after just 11 games. On February 11, 2003, Argentina was scheduled to meet the Netherlands in a friendly match. Ortega had been called up to the team by Marcelo Bielsa, and as the Fener forward boarded the aircraft, he realized he was leaving Istanbul for the final time.

Ortega departed to Buenos Aires shortly as the game ended, notifying his bosses that he would not be returning.

Juan Berros, Ortega's agent, detailed a series of pledges that the board had breached. They "know Ariel is extremely dissatisfied because they have not fulfilled anything in his contract," Berros stated. Fenerbahce had promised to bring more Argentine players to the group, he alleged, but German coach Werner Lorant's additions had failed to deliver.

FIFA, predictably, was not pleased with Ortega's absence. Ortega was fined $11 million and banned until December 2003 after the Turkish team filed a complaint with football's regulatory body.

At the age of 29, a player who once seemed to be the heir to Maradona's kingdom was without a club and no hope. He had no choice but to resign in despair after being unable to buy out his contract and suitors avoiding him due to his attitude.

Gallego would save him once again, using the proceeds from the sale of Mauro Rosales to Ajax to buy out the remainder of Ortega's contract. El Burrito had been training alone for the most of his 19-month exile from the game, but his pure joy on his return to Rio Negro was palpable.

Ortega would return the favor to the club that had given him "back to pleasure" by scoring a penalty and guiding La Lepra to the 2004 Apertura championship. Football looked to be getting the upper hand in his never-ending war between skill and fury.

Despite his increasing affection for Rosario's people and football, Ortega could never ignore River's call. When they came for him two years later, he had no option but to reconcile with the man who had given him his start more than a decade before. The collaboration with Daniel Passarella, however, would be less beneficial this time.

Ortega had a strong start to the 2006 Apertura, but his rising alcoholism reached a breaking point in October. Off the pitch, rumors had been circulating for some time, with charges of his misbehavior filling the pages of the Argentine newspapers. When his illness became known, he was removed off the team to seek treatment.

Only a month after returning from rehab, he scored a spectacular chip against San Lorenzo before hugging Passarella on the sidelines. It seemed like a new beginning, but those who have suffered from the plague of alcoholism are all too aware with false dawns.

After witnessing Ortega score one and set up another in a friendly in January 2007, Passarella hailed his star's comeback, acknowledging that he was "on the right road." He was taken from the team hotel in a highly drunk condition and transported back to Buenos Aires for additional treatment less than 24 hours later.

Ortega's performance followed a similar pattern, alternating between regal skill and raucous breakdown. When Passarella was fired in 2007, Orteguita's off-field antics were given short attention by his replacement, Diego Simeone. Simeone's tolerance became thin as reports of his binge drinking made the front pages.

Ortega was cut from the team and put on the transfer list by the time the Clausura was signed in 2008. At a news conference to announce Ortega's resignation, Simeone remarked, "It was the toughest choice I've ever taken." Only a few days before, the River forward had smashed his pickup vehicle at a gas station while inebriated. That was the last straw.

Independiente Rivadavia spent $500,000 to bring the troublesome playmaker to Mendoza, offering him first-team football in the Nacional B in exchange for his participation in a rehabilitation program in Santiago. Despite his evident flaws, it was seen as a major victory.

It wasn't long until the joy began to fade. Ortega was in no condition to contribute on the field, as seen by his frequent absences from training and ill-tempered outbursts on the field, which led to his footballing nadir. Daniel Vila, the president of Rivadavia, announced the termination of his employment on May 1, 2009.

Back in Buenos Aires, Ortega's addiction continued to plague him, although his performances improved significantly. The 36-year-old was loaned to local team All Boys in 2011 while his disease returned and remitted.

When word of his contract got out, he was trailed to his new team hotel by scores of ardent River fans who flocked to the Mar de Ajo resort, hoping to see their hero in person. However, he would irritate once more.

Coach Pepe Romero dismissed Ortega from the team for a match against Tigre in April after he missed two training sessions in a week. The agreement would, predictably, be short-lived, as Ortega, now 36, would return to River under new coach Juan José Lopez.

The writing was on the wall from the beginning. After Ortega missed the first day of pre-season training due to "stomach difficulties," Lopez and now-president Passarella notified him that he would be cut from the team.

It was the most benign and prosaic of endings for a guy who had built a career on flashes of brilliance. After a season with Defensores de Belgrano in the Metropolitano B, he retired in 2012.

River would not — could not – allow Ortega's career to end on such a low note. Not a single player had grabbed the hearts and minds of his supporters like he had, not a single player who had battled with all he had in each of his 272 outings. A guy with more than his share of demons, yet who carried himself as though no earthly load could slow him down.

It was little surprise, therefore, that on July 13, 2013, a farewell match was held at El Monumental in Ortega's honor. He earned a standing ovation from 60,000 loving Millonarios after 24 minutes, and the screams of "Orteee! Orteee!" caused him to cry. Before walking away amid a chorus of flames and pyrotechnics, he'd even have time to put up a goal for his small son Tomasito.

Here was the most human of Gods, given a send-off worthy of his magnificent gift, if not his ultimately disappointing career. He blasted over the stadium speakers, "I want to thank you everybody." "Thank you very much, and I thank God for turning me become a River lover."

Ortega had sprinted, ran, and dribbled his way into the hearts of football fans all across the world over the course of a two-decade career. He may not have achieved the heights that he or his nation had hoped for, but he will always remain El Mas Grande to River Plate's adoring supporters.

Some quick facts about Ariel Ortega:

He had a significant stage as a regular player for the Argentina national football team, with whom he played 88 games and scored 17 goals, participated in three World Cups, and finished second in the 1995 Confederations Cup.

At the Olympic level, he won the 1995 Pan American Games Gold Medal, the 1996 Olympic Games Silver Medal, and the 1996 Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

He is also one of the great idols of River Plate fans, a club in which he had four stages: between 1991 and 1996, where he would become one of the most important appearances of the decade for Argentine football, winning numerous local championships: the Aperturas of 1991, 1993, 1994, and 1996, and the Libertadores of 1996.

His second stage, from 2000 to 2003, followed an irregular three-and-a-half season in European football, during which he defended the colors of Valencia,


, and Parma.

With more experience, Orteguita would become one of the Nez team's soccer leaders, alongside a great generation of cracks such as Saviola, Pablo Aimar, D'Alessandro, and Fernando Cavenaghi, among others.

Technically directed by Ramón Daz, would have a brilliant level once more, confirming himself as one of the best players in America and validating his ownership of the Albiceleste team.

Ariel Ortega social media


Ariel Ortega social media

, it should be mentioned that he has an Instagram page (


) with more than 35k followers. On the page we can see various pictures of him with the fans and his family.

Ariel Ortega body measurements

Speaking about 

Ariel Ortega body measurements

, it should be mentioned that the former star is 170 cm and 64 kg.

Ariel Ortega net worth and salary

Ariel Ortega's net worth

 is estimated to be around $1.5 million, according to Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider.

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