Dennis Bergkamp (born May 10, 1969 in Amsterdam)
is a The Netherlands|Dutch professional football
(soccer)|football player, and a former player for
the Netherlands national football team.
His parents, who were football fanatics, named him
after Manchester United and Scotland national
football team|Scotland striker Denis Law, though
they altered the spelling of the name. It is
claimed that this was either due to
Netherlands|Dutch regulations, or that "Denis" was
too similar to the female form "Denise".
Bergkamp was brought up through Ajax Amsterdam's
famous youth system, joining the club at age 12.
He was given his professional debut by coach
Johann Cruyff on December 14, 1986 against Roda
JC, and went on to make 14 appearances that
season. He played as a substitute in the 1987 Cup
Winners' Cup|European Cup Winners Cup final
against Lokomotive Leipzig, which Ajax won.
The following season, Bergkamp became a regular
for Ajax, winning the Eredivisie|Dutch league in
1990, the UEFA Cup in 1992 and the KNVB Cup in
1993. From 1991 to 1993 Bergkamp was top Dutch
scorer, and he was voted "Player of the Year" in
1992 and 1993. In all, Bergkamp scored 122 goals
in 239 games for his hometown club.
In the summer of 1993, Bergkamp and his Ajax
team-mate Wim Jonk were signed by Internazionale
of Milan. However, his time in Italy was less
successful. Although he won a second UEFA Cup in
1994, he found it hard to adapt to the style of
play, scoring just 11 times in 50 appearances.
Bergkamp's poor form was not helped by his frosty
relationship with the Italian press, and indeed
some of his team-mates.
After two unhappy seasons at Inter, Bergkamp was
signed by Arsenal F.C.|Arsenal boss Bruce Rioch in
June 1995. Bergkamp had to adapt to the English
style of play, and it took him eight games before
he managed to score his first goal. Slowly but
surely, Bergkamp's stature grew, playing as a
forward behind the main striker, Ian Wright, with
whom he formed an effective partnership. Bergkamp
has been regarded by many football critics such as
Alan Hansen as being the greatest foreign player
to grace the English game.
Bergkamp hit his best form for Arsenal after the
arrival of ArsÃ¨ne Wenger in September 1996.
Arsenal won a Premiership and FA Cup double in the
1997-1998|8 season (although Bergkamp missed the
cup final with an injury), and Bergkamp was voted
PFA Player of the Year. In September 1997 he
became the first and so far only player to have
come first, second and third in Match of the Day's
'Goal of the Month' competition. He scored 16
times that season, as well as being involved in
setting up many more.
While his form since has not matched the spectacle
of that season, Bergkamp continued to be a regular
in the Arsenal team. He won the double again in
2002, the FA Cup in 2003 and the Premiership for a
third time in 2004. The club's domestic success
has not been matched in European competition, the
closest to a medal coming when they lost the 2000
UEFA Cup final on penalty shootout
Bergkamp's arrival at Arsenal was significant, not
only as he was one of the first world-class
foreign players to join an English club since the
lifting of the Heysel Stadium disaster|Heysel ban
in 1991, but also because he was a major
contributor to the club's return to success after
the stagnation of the mid-1990s. He is held in
high regard by the club's fans, so much so that he
has been nicknamed "God" by some.
However, Bergkamp's future at Arsenal has recently
been in doubt, due to Arsenal's reluctance in
offering him a new deal. Bergkamp had said he
would retire from football if not offered a new
contract with Arsenal for the 2005-06 in English
football|2005-06 campaign, despite interest from
his former club Ajax. Following Arsenal's penalty
shootout victory over Manchester United in the FA
Cup Final in Cardiff, it was revealed he would
sign a one-year contract extension, keeping him at
the London club for their final season at the
Arsenal Stadium at Highbury.
Through end of the 2004/2005 season, Bergkamp had
hit 118 goals for Arsenal. His first 100 goals can
be seen on the Centurions DVD along with 100 goals
by Thierry Henry.
Bergkamp made his international debut for the
Netherlands national football team|Netherlands in
1990 against Italy national football team|Italy.
His first major tournament was Ec|92, where the
Dutch defended their title. Bergkamp impressed
(catching the eye of Inter, who would later sign
him), but the Dutch lost on penalties in the
Bergkamp also impressed in the Wc|1994, playing in
all of his side's matches, scoring a spectacular
goal against Brazil national football team|Brazil,
a match the Dutch ultimately lose 3-2. Holland
disappointed in Euro 96, with the squad riven by
in-fighting, although Bergkamp still scored once,
and set up Patrick Kluivert's consolatory goal
against England national football team|England
that got the side into the quarter-finals.
In the Wc|1998, Bergkamp scored three times, the
most memorable of which being the winning goal in
the final minute of the quarter-final against
Argentina national football team|Argentina.
Bergkamp controlled a long 50-yard aerial pass
from Frank De Boer, reverse-flicking it past
defender Roberto Ayala with his right foot, before
firing a half-volley past the keeper at a tight
angle. It was widely regarded as one of the best
goals of the tournament.
The Netherlands joint-hosted Ec2|2000 and were one
of the favourites. After progressing through the
"group of death", they lost on penalties to Italy
in the semi-finals. Bergkamp didn't score at all
but still played an important role. After the
defeat, Bergkamp announced his retirement from
international football, because the next big
tournament would be kept in Japan and South Korea
(WC 2002) and he was afraid of flight. He did not
play the qualification matches since he thought
that'd be unfair and many believe that that's why
the Netherlands didin't qualify for the World
Championship 2002. He ended his international
career second on the all-time list of goal scorers
for the Dutch national team, with 37 goals in 79
==Style of play==
Bergkamp is a striker who stands out more because
of the quality of his goals than the quantity. He
is the kind of player who can leave the two or
three defender (football)|defenders he passed
wondering what just happened. He likes to score
from outside the box or carry the ball into the
box to score. A case in point is the majestic goal
he scored against Newcastle on the March 2, 2002,
which later earned him Goal of the Season.
* Dennis is standing just outside the box, with
his back towards the defender.
* A long pass from the midfield comes flying low
over the ground.
* Without even looking towards the defender, he
touches the ball only once, leg out-stretched.
* The ball curves past the defender, but Dennis
also passes the defender on the other side, like
two streams of the same river passing a rock.
* The goal, a second later, is just a formality
for Bergkamp and the flabbergasted goal keeper.
Throughout the entire event, Dennis never once
looked at the defender, though he knew exactly
where he was.
This example illustrates his fine ability to
control the ball, his sublime first touch (other,
otherwise excellent strikers, often need to
'control' the ball by bringing it to rest, giving
defenders the chance to intercept), his ability to
leave defenders standing and his preference to
score (or to set up a goal) from outside the box.
==Others on Bergkamp ==
In his analysis of the way in which Dutch football
and Dutch culture blend, Brilliant Orange (ISBN
0747553106), writer David Winner analyzes the
effect of Dennis Bergkamp's passes and how he can
split a defence: "Before the pass the pitch is
crowded and narrow; after the pass it is wide
Dennis Bergkamp is also well known for having a
aviophobia|fear of flying, giving rise to the
nickname the non-Flying Dutchman. As such, he is
often unable to play in matches Arsenal play
outside of England, However, for certain important
matches, he will, if required, take a train or
drive himself there. The tiring nature of such
long journeys from London to Europe (and back)
often means he misses domestic matches around
European away games.