Start of the 06/07 European football season marked the end of an era for me. For it above all else signals the end of a long, illustrious and mesmerizing career of a footballer that I rate third only to Diego Armando Maradona and Enzo Francesscoli. Dennis Bergkamp is a name that will forever be etched in the my fondest and sweetest memories. Heck there is no way I would forget him since his name also symbolizes some of password that I use (although now all has been changed since I blog it here…)
To be honest, Dennis wasn’t always my idol. Yes, I knew him when he was with Ajax and Inter but the first actual introduction to him was the 94 World Cup where he had a wonderful debut in that tournament though Holland as usual slump out disappointingly at the biggest stage. The next year he was at my Arsenal. Hence it was easy to fall in love with the man, the footballer, the person, the charisma, the skill, the talent and much much more. From the first goal that he put past poor ol Southampton, I knew this man is all about class. The volley was superb, the techniques was top notch. The 2nd goal shows more of what Dennis was all about. Taking the ball just into The Saints half, he went on a marauding run that twist and turn a defender into dizziness. The moment the ball hits the top corner at North Bank, Gunners fans all the around the world rejoice for the only bright spark in Bruce Rioch short tenure in charge of Arsenal.
More great things was to come from Dennis, however as the season evolved so did him. Back in Ajax and Inter, Dennis has always been more and more of an out and out striker. Holding the line and bringing the midfield into play. At Arsenal, we already have Wrighty doing all that. Thus Dennis took on a role he was born to do. A role that no one in the world does better on his day. The role we now refer to Bergkamp’s Position….or in-the-hole-striker for the rest of you non Bergkamp fans. It was in this position which Dennis really shone. Treading through passes to Wrighty, Anelka, Henry, Wiltord just to name a few. Orchestrating play like the opposition never existed. Ghosting into open spaces which opposing defenders never seem to be able to pick up and assisting in almost every one of Arsenal goals.
When the moment did come, Dennis’s goals will always be of something magical. Stupendous if you ask me. In the split of a second, Dennis breaks down the play and find that extra room in the goal which dumbfounds top keepers. The curlers have become something of a Dennis’s trademark. He did it against Barnsley twice, Sunderland, Leceister and many more. First man to claim all top 3 goals of the month contest for his world class performance at Filbert Street. The goal that put the Argentinians out of France’98 would be reminiscent of the third goal against Leceister. Put through on a long pass from defence, taking the ball on one flicking it to the other over a defender’s head, and scoring. That was class. So was his goal at Wembley against England and Barcelona. Who could argue with the magic at St James Park where Dabizas was made to look like a fool. Not to forget numerous chips which embarrassed some keepers to say the least.
For me, Dennis stood out among the crowd for his professionalism and class. Testament to that is the fact that he played beyond his years (Sherringham not withstanding). At 37 he was still up and running. His discipline to football was highly commendable. Drinking or smoking or late nights were never on his agenda since the day he put pen to paper at Ajax. The players both ex and current that show up at his testimonial only further proves the amount of respect fellow proffesionals have for him. From Cryuff to Wrighty, you all have worked with the very best.
I thank you Dennis for the wonderful memories that is now lodged in me. Thank you for the success which you have bestowed upon Arsenal. Thank you for the imagination, magic and wonders. Thank you for the years. I salute you master, legend, greats, magician, footballer, person Dennis Bergkamp.