a�?Long ball from Frank De Boer, seeking out Dennis Bergkampa��Ohh thata��s brilliant, Ohh thata��s wonderful, that is a magnificent goal and it has taken Holland in to the next round for surea��a��brilliant play by Dennis Bergkampa�?

Those were the words of a BBC commentator during a World Cup quarterfinal match between Argentina and Holland in 1998. The same match was also being covered by a Dutch Radio Station (NOS) and the commentator was Jack Van Gelder (became famous for this). This is how he reacted to that goal from Bergkamp –

a�?Met balbezit voor Frank de Boer, Frank de Boer speelt de bal heel goed naar Dennis Bergkamp. Dennis Bergkamp, Dennis Bergkamp neemt de bal aan. Dennis Bergkamp! Dennis Bergkamp! Dennis Bergkamp! Dennis Bergkamp! Dennis Bergkamp!(Jack began crying at this point) Oh, Frank de Boer speelt de bal naar Dennis Bergkamp, die neemt de bal feilloos aan en die schiet de bal er in! We spelen nog officieel 20 seconden, Dennis Bergkamp 2-1!a�?

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uc1H2hOHu_s&version=3&hl=en_US]

Its not often that you see a commentator crying in between a match, but then you don’t see a player like Burgy too often as well. This is the story of Arsenala��s second greatest player of all time (according to a poll), this is the story of Dennis The Menace.

From Amsterdam with liefdea��

Twenty five years a kid played his first professional match for Ajax against Roda JC. After the match, the kid was in the showers with his team mates, when a certain Frank Rijkaard asked him his age, the kid replied back a�?Seventeena�?, Rijkaard said a�?Then you have a golden future,a�?. Bergkamp was brought up through the famous Ajax youth academy, where he joined at the age of 12. Things were not so rosy for Dennis during his days at the academy, he was considered too lightweight and not physically strong enough to be a football player. For years, he struggled in the youth team. Legendary Dutchman Johan Cruyff was at the helm of the club when Bergkamp made his debut. Dennis made 14 appearances on his debut season with Ajax. He even added a winnera��s medal that season as Ajax won the European Cup Winners Cup in 1987. In the final, Dennis came on as a substitute.

Bergkamp came from a very modest background. His father was a catholic plumber, and Dennis was one of his four sons. Johan Cruyff, in an interview, said that Dennis belongs to a a�?Super-decent Familya�? and that they were a�?People who were concerned with finishing your studies, with behaving decently.a�?. His family members were Manchester United supporters, and he was named after the legendary Denis Law. Dennis was never a Red Devila��s fan, in fact he was a fan of Glenn Hoddle of Tottenham Hotspurs. Dennis had said –

a�?Maybe I was…maybe I am, a little different from other players. They will tell you that Pele, Maradona, Cruyff are their idols and I will say Glenn Hoddle. Main thing was that I was a big fan of Glenn Hoddle. When you wanted to see Hoddle play you watched Tottenham. People often assume I’m a Spurs fan but it’s not true. I was a fan of Glenn Hoddle, not of Spurs.a�?

In his early days, Dennis never socialized with others outside his family. He played for Holland while still living in his home and even used to take homework on his away trips! Dennis earned an interesting nickname early on in his career, his team mates used to call him Dennis the Van man Bergkamp.

Bergkamp became a first team regular from his second season onwards; he turned into a prolific goal scorer, but from an early age it was evident that he is a player who is not limited by his goal scoring stats, he is much more than that. His marauding runs, his knowledge about other players’ positions on the pitch and his know how of the game set him apart. He won the Eredivisie in 1990 with Ajax, the UEFA Cup in 1992, two Dutch Cup (1987 and 1993) along with the Cup Winners Cup he won in his debut season. Dennis amassed 122 goals in 237 appearances for the club. He was the top scorer in the league for three seasons in a row (1991-1993), this feat earned him two Dutch Player of the Year award (1992,1993) voted by his Dutch colleagues.

The Beginning…

 

Dennis made his international debut in 1990 in a match against Italy at Palermo. He didna��t look back since. He was a regular in the first team till the time he decided to hang up his boots after Euro 2000. In 1992, Holland was the favorites to win the European championship. Bergkamp travelled to Sweden with a team consisting of superstar such as Gullit, Van Basten, Rijkaard, and Koeman. Dennis played well and scored three goals (top scorer in the tournament with Larsen, Riedle and Brolin) before the Netherlands lost to Denmark in a penalty shootout in the semi-finals.

The Italian Joba��.

Following his exploits in 1992, Inter Milan came calling and Dennis was sold to the Italian side along with his team mate Wim Jonk in the summer of 1993. Inter paid a then record sum of A?12 million for the Dutchmana��s service, Dennis became the second most expensive player at that time, behind Gianluigi Lentini. Johan Cruyff was not happy with the transfer, he predicted that Bergkamp wona��t succeed with Inter because of their defensive style of play. It came to the forefront that the Iceman chose the Nerazzurri over AC Milan and Barcelona. Off the field accolades continued to flow for the Dutchman, as he came second to Roberto Baggio in the European footballer of the year award and third in FIFA footballer of the year awards. He also won the UEFA cup for the second time in his career in 1994.

Torrid Times…

 

On the field, Bergkamp found it hard to adjust to his new surroundings. Bergkamp had a fluffed relationship with the Italian press and even with some of his team mates. The Uruguayan striker Ruben Sosa treated him more as a rival than a colleague. The Italian Media didna��t leave him at peace either. His poor form didna��t help; he was heavily criticized by the media. Things went so bad that the media renamed an award after him. a�?The Donkey of the weeka�? award was given to the worst performer every week; it was renamed as a�?The Bergkamp of the weeka�?.

Even during these tormented times he continued to play well for the Netherlands. He played an important part in Netherlands’ 1994 World Cup campaign, playing every game in the finals. The Dutch master scored three goals in five World Cup matches.

Cruyff was right, Bergkamp and Inter were not made for each other. Two of them belonged to two opposite poles of the game. While much was promised to Bergkamp regarding changes that were going to happen within the team, nothing changed. His unhappy two year stints at the club ended in 1995 and he finished with 30 goals from 81 appearances for the club.

London Dreamsa��.

Not many of the Gooners remember Bruce Rioch, the former Arsenal Manager. Some who do, remember him mostly due to his fall out with Ian Wright as the latter went on to hand over a transfer request. During his much disputed one year stint as the manager of the club, Rioch did one thing that was perhaps one of the greatest contributions in the cluba��s history. He brought a certain Dennis Bergkamp from Inter Milan to Highbury. Bergkamp signed for the Gunners for a deal of around A?7.5 million. He said

a�?Other clubs never came into my thoughts once I knew Arsenal wanted to sign me.a�?

a�?Arsenal will be lucky if Bergkamp scores 10 goals this season.a�? a�� Thata��s what Massimo Moratti had to say about Bergkamp when he arrived at London. Despite skepticism regarding his transfer from outsiders, his team mates knew well in advance what a gem had arrived at Arsenal. On his first day at the training ground, all his team mates bowed before him and chanted a�?We are not worthy!a�?. The Dutchman made his debut for Arsenal against Middlesbrough. He took time to settle down; people raised questions about his ability as Dennis went on a run of seven games since his debut without scoring. Finally against Southampton, Bergkamp announced his arrival with two cracking goals. Ian Wright and Bergkamp formed one the best strike partnership the Premier League has ever seen. The two became very close friends off the field as well.

Coming Home…

 

Then arrived Arsene Wenger in 1996 and Arsenal’s history changed forever. Bergkamp got new wings under him and played his best football during this period of his career. Dennisa��s best season at Arsenal came in the year 1997/98. He was in mesmerizing form and everything he touched (read kicked) turned into gold. His most memorable performance that season came against Leicester City, where he scored a wonderful hat trick. He is the only player to have come first, second and third in Match of the Day’s Goal of the Month competition. The great Alan Hansen said that it was the greatest Hat trick he has ever seen. Bergkamp helped the club to complete a double, winning the Premier League and FA cup along the way. Ironically though, Bergkamp missed the final of the FA cup with an injury. The Dutch Magician was voted as the PFA player of the year. He also won the PWA player of the year award, and his wonder goal against Leicester City was voted as the BBC goal of the season. The Dutch Master once again came 3rd in the FIFA player of the year award, this time behind Ronaldo and Roberto Carlos.

In the 1998 world cup, Bergkamp helped the Dutch national team to a fourth place finish. He scored, what is considered as one of the best goals in the World Cups ever, against Argentina in the Quarter Final and it was the winner in the dying minutes of the game. He scored three goals and made three assists in the tournament. In 2000, Bergkamp decided to retire from international matches. Euro 2000 was his last tournament for the Oranje. Netherlands lost to Italy in the Semi-Final in a penalty shoot-out. The Dutch Mastera��s last venture for his national team ended in disappointment.

2001/2002 was another memorable year for him. Arsenal won the double once again and Bergkamp scored one of the great goals in English Premier League history against Newcastle.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n275iW54o68&version=3&hl=en_US]

After Ian Wright, Bergkamp formed a deadly partnership with another Arsenal legend Thierry Henry. It was a pair made in heaven,A� it was like red wine and a royal chalice. For years to come Burgy would unlock defense of opposition with eye of a needle pass and Titi would continue doing what he did best, scoring goals. Many believe Henry wouldna��t have scored so many goals for Arsenal, if not for the Dutch master. 2003/2004 season saw Arsenal re-writing the history book as they achieved a�?invincibilitya��. They went through a complete season without being beaten which eventually stretched to a 49 match run. Arsenal regained their Premiership crown along the way. This feat remains one of the highlights of his legendary career. He was the fulcrum of that Arsenal side. a�?Walking in a Burgcamp wonderlanda�? became a Highbury anthem.

Bergkamp finally decided to hang up his boots in 2006. He scored in his last match and assisted in another as Arsenal won against West Brom. That was Arsenala��s last match at Highbury and the last match of an illustrious 11 years for Bergkamp as a Gunner. It was the end of an Era.

The Legend of the a�?Non-flyinga�� Dutchmana��

Dennis Bergkamp had aerophobia, thata��s the only thing which proves that he is human like us all. A human being, who with the ball at his feet conjured magical moments which will remain immortalized in our minds forever. He was not an out-an-out striker. He was more of a trequartista. There are players whom you cannot simply judge by the number of goals he has scored, though Bergkamp has scored plenty (104 at Arsenal). There are also players who cannot be a�?measureda�� by the number of assists he has provided, Bergkamp has plenty of that too (124 assists and 42 a�?partiala�� assists for Arsenal). Dennis Bergkamp was an artist; he would have been equally famous if someone would have replaced the ball at his feet with a paint brush in his hand. He was calmness personified, at times he could have been easily mistaken for a Buddhist Monk. He oozed class; he gave the impression that he could play football with a cigar in his mouth and a glass of Champagne in his hand. His vision is unparalleled; even at times the spectators couldna��t see the space on the pitch from the stands, which he saw while playing on it. A Dennis Bergkamp comes only once in a lifetime, his time on the pitch might have ended, but his legend will live on, as long as Arsenal survive, as long as football survive in this world, the tales of this Dutch Legend will survive with it. We can proudly tell our grand children a�?We were therea�?.

A tribute to the ‘GOD’, who wore red and white jersey with number 10 on his back and a Cannon on his chest – Dennis Bergkamp

 

(Personally for me, the below lines by the man himself, describes him more than any other words can say)

Behind every kick of the ball there has to be a thought.

Dennis Bergkamp

Tribute by othersa��

If Ryan Giggs is worth A?20 million, Bergkamp is worth A?100 million

– Marco Van Basten

a�?Hea��s the messiah. We told him to get us into Europe when he joined the club and thata��s exactly what he did.a�?

a�� Lee Dixon & Ian Wright

Intelligence and class. Class is of course, most of the time linked to what you can do with the ball, but the intelligence makes you use the technique in an efficient way. What he (Bergkamp) does, there’s always a head and always a brain. And his technique allows him to do what he sees, and what he decides to do.

– Arsene Wenger

I have always said Dennis Bergkamp will remain the best partner I have ever had. He is a dream for a striker.

– Thierry Henry

a�?I’ve played with so many players. He does not do tricks like Zinedine Zidane but I don’t know if any other player can see the game as well and as fast as he does. Everyone who has played with Dennis will tell you how great he is.a�?

a�� Thierry Henry

a�?Bergkamp is someone special. I know him from the days when we played together, he was very young then. In the past few days, there has been a lot of talk about exciting football. But a long time ago, Bergkamp had already started to play an attractive game. He was one of those players who made people turn up to stadium just to watch his game. In a way he was making art, scoring beautiful goals. He has already left a mark in football.

a�� Frank Rijkaard

Tribute by Fans on Twittera��

a�?The man who in my opinion brought the skill and style to our club which forms the basis of our attacking play today!a�?

a��(@ryano83)

a�?Bergkamp will not only be remembered as an arsenal legend but he was also a player that has changed the game of football for ever :)a�?

a�� (@chickenpox13)

A�

And this settles ita�� (an excerpt from an article by Simon Kuper of the Financial Times)

One night (In 2005) some legends of Dutch football gathered for dinner in an Amsterdam house. Around midnight conversation turned to an old question: who was the best Dutch footballer ever? Dutchmen have been voted European Footballer of the Year seven times, more than any other nationality except Germans. Yet Jan Mulder, a great centre-forward turned writer, chose a player who had never even threatened to win the award nor, at the time, a Champions League: Bergkamp. He had the finest technique, said Mulder. Guus Hiddink, the great Dutch manager, nodded, and so the matter was settled.

Dennis Bergkamp’s top 10 goals

Footnote (My Tribute) – Sir, you have been my biggest motivation since childhood. You (and Il Divin Codino) have been the reason a little kid feel in love with the game. It is my honor that today I have the opportunity to write a tribute for you. A dream of mine has been fulfilled today. All these years growing up, facing the ups and downs of life, one thing has remained constant, and thats the joyousness of watching you create art on a football pitch. You have been the best thing that has happened to me.

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18 Responses to “THT Heroes – Dennis Bergkamp – Walking in a Burgcamp wonderland”

Read below or add a comment...

  1. THEEEO says:

    Great article.

    Bergkamp the greatest player I have had the pleasure of watching, us Arsenal fans are truly privileged to have witnessed the footballing God in our lifetime.

  2. Astur says:

    1st of all have to say, you’v done incredible a good job. I personally think its never is easy to write about such great people. what Bergkamp has done cant be sumnarized in just a short article. you did that and huts off to you.
    He is one of my all time footballer. had great talent, great vision and great personality. i guess i can safely say, Inter Milan’s lose is Arsenal’s gain. i very much thank Bruce Rioch. thank you for bringing him to arsenal and am afraid i cant thank Dennis enough for his contribution in making my early years as an arsenal fans one to savour.

  3. Rohit says:

    I think this article has been inspired quite a bit by this tribute to Bergkamp I read on Goal.com.

    http://www.goal.com/en-india/news/137/england/2008/07/11/772634/premier-league-marvels-dennis-bergkamp

  4. laud says:

    tears rolln, Dennis shd kill his phobia n return to d club as d next manager!

  5. enigma106 says:

    As a sports writer and an Arsenal blogger, I know what it’s like to dedicate an article for a specific player.

    You have to know a lot about the player and get your facts right.

    Your article on Bergkamp was F.A.N.T.A.S.T.I.C.

    I’ll be honored to share your link in my Arsenal blog, Gooner Daily

  6. denmuli says:

    I love this””He oozed class; he
    gave the impression that he could play
    football with a cigar in his mouth and
    a glass of Champagne in his hand “”.need I say anymore?…..

  7. Tony says:

    Brilliant article. Mr B the had the best technique of any player I have seen in England and perhaps Europe – the world maybe debatable.
    I look upon Mr B as an artist, who when the whistle went for the kick off pulled out a blank canvas and for 90 minutes with a variety of thick, thin and subtle brush strokes and his masterful use of colour painted a picture so beautiful the supporters happily parted with their entrance fee. Each game a masterpiece.
    Dennis you will never ever be forgotten at Arsenal

  8. kolo Lawan says:

    An oustanding genius,always at his peak. A brilliant,skillful,deligent and crafty dutch man that contributed a lot to the beauty of football. He is no one but the greatest arsenal player ever Dennis Bergkam

  9. Amlan Majumdar says:

    Thanks to @THEEEO @Astur @Bola @denmuli @Tony – I am glad that you have liked it.

    @enigma106 thanks for sharing the article on your blog

    @laud – Believe me, I did shed some tears even while writing this. I am honoured that you are touched by the article
    @Rohit – This article is inspired by a lot of things, but it was certainly not inspired from the link that you have shared. In fact, I can even tell you the source from which this goal.com article got inspired from :) . Thanks for sharing it though.

  10. Amlan Majumdar says:

    @kolo – Coudn’t agree more – The best that Arsenal had and might ever have

  11. Kaustav says:

    Really feels proud to have watched Bergcamp playing the MAGIC…

  12. Paul says:

    A really good read . Thanks for sharing that .
    In my opinion , there are very good players , and great players , but then there is a unique level of unparalled skilled and talented players where only a select few truly belong . Pele of course , Best , Maradona , Zidane , Platini , Messi ( ? ) , Henry .
    Dennis Bergkamp easily makes this elite group . Without question he was a footballing maestro .
    I still get shivers watching compilations of his goals and assists , and THAT goal in The World Cup against Argentina ( with Dutch commentary ) is a masterpiece .

  13. Amlan Majumdar says:

    @Paul – Thanks a lot mate, and your point about ‘unique level’ players is spot on. Bergy belonged to that class

  14. Pietros1 says:

    Excellent blog and great clips, sad too, where’s our next DB10? We were privileged to have such a genius!!! COYG!!

  15. Amlan Majumdar says:

    @Pietros1 Sadly there wont be a next DB10. #Fact

  16. Sage says:

    It has to be said, not everyone could see his talent, but my if you could you were simply left in awe. Definitely an underachiever and ultimately he won’t be considered one of the all time greats because he didn’t lead his teams to the Champions League or the World Cup. But he was so close at times, especially with the World Cup. Although this post bangs on about how good he was, he is still very underrated in the big scheme of things. His finest moment had to be 98 against Argentina, I have seen so many players try to control the ball from a long ball and they simply look awful- Dennis showed us how it’s done, time and time again.

    But anyway, great article and it’s fantastic to see that there are so many others who can’t get enough of the one and only Bergkamp!

  17. Amlan Majumdar says:

    @Sage Thanks mate, Bergkamp is in the long list of great players who have missed out on the world cup – another significant name is Maldini