N.B. – Of all the players that people have wanted to write about for the blog, Dennis Bergkamp was by far and away the most popular choice. To reflect that, here’s a second entry for the series on the great Arsenal striker.
by Carlos Vieira Reis
I guess it must be Dennis Bergkamp.
He may have never won any of football’s major prizes – there were three UEFA Cups, but no Champions League, no European Championship, no World Cup – but who cares? Playing football should never be just about winning trophies, Johan Cruyff’s “best to be remembered by the style” approach was one to be admitted, and Bergkamp was all about style – poise, control, use of space, thought and action.
As a fan I also valued the strong sense of fidelity he appeared to harbor throughout his career. He always seemed at ease with himself, centered and balanced. He played for just three clubs, was given a first-class footballing education at Ajax (1986-1993) and spent a brief time at Internazionale (1993-1995) before maturing and enjoying his very best years at Arsenal (1995-2006).
His brilliance also transferred to the Dutch national team, for whom, between 1990 and 2000, Bergkamp scored 37 goals in 79 appearances and marked himself out as arguably the best Dutch player of his generation. Playing alongside a collection of other outstanding players (Kluivert, Overmars, Cocu, Koeman, Seedorf and the de Boer brothers to name but a few), Bergkamp was perhaps unfortunate not to have finished his international career with more tangible success.
Of course, it was whilst playing for Holland at the 1998 World Cup that Bergkamp scored what has come to be recognised as his greatest ever goal. Being just two years younger than the great man, I cannot recall another goal quite as breathtaking in the last 40 years. It was the 4th July 1998 and it was Holland versus Argentina in Marseille for a quarter-final clash.
With just a minute of normal time remaining and the score at 1-1, Frank de Boer launched a sumptuous 60-yard pass which found Bergkamp with remarkable precision. The Arsenal player needed just three (three!) touches to control the ball, put it between Roberto Ayala’s legs and slam it beyond Carlos Roa and into the net. The goal seemed illogical, almost beyond the bounds of football. It was magical.
That goal summed up everything that there is to love about Dennis Bergkamp, a true technical genius on the field and, with his aerophobia, a quirky, endearing character off it. He is a player I’ll never forget as long as I live.
Read more from Carlos on his blog, ANAUEL (it’s mostly in Portuguese).