An Arsenal fan’s tribute to the irreplaceable Dennis Bergkamp (plus his Top Ten Arsenal goals video!)

BERGKAMP A story of beauty personified .. by Liberty Leo

To take our minds off the troubles we are all going through, I would love to remember how football was played at the ARSENAL in bygone times .. and talking about a certain Dutchman…

Outside the Emirates Stadium in London lies a statue of Bergkamp in the middle of a typically eye-catching pose – controlling a ball. It speaks volumes about the Dutchman’s cachet among the Arsenal fans that he remains a part of the club’s culture, embedded in the surrounds of their 60,000-seater stadium; their former striker acts as a constant reminder of the net-shaking riches that once sat in their goal-frame bank account.

These days, however, many have been questioning why the north London club haven’t managed to source a reliable, classy, clinical forward in recent seasons. The fact of the matter is that the style of play which has hovered over the club since the mid-1990s has been that of one connected with the spirit of stylish, haute-couture football; it’s one that attempts to create the successful collaboration of aesthetics with consistently good results.

In short, it’s a pursuit of idealistic perfection that has enchanted so many – both supporters and neutrals alike. This reasoning relies heavily on having the right type of goalscorer – and the memory of Bergkamp is one that clearly, and literally, continues to haunt the club long after he has hung up his boots. His ghost lingers in the minds of every true Gunner, both new and old alike, because it is fair to say that they never truly replaced him. Finding a player who could do his job was never going to be an easy task when the non-flying Dutchman eventually departed. Had the technology to clone a younger version of him been possible, they might well have jumped at the opportunity.

Then again, this is Arsenal we’re talking about and engaging in the complicated, futuristic practice of fabricating a duplicate would probably cost a heck of a lot of money. They’d probably haggle a cut-price deal with a dodgy molecular scientist down some back-alley near the old Highbury Stadium and wind up with another Nicklas Bendtner.

On a serious note, though, replacing him would never have been a realistic plan. He was too unique a player, too special a talent and too prestigious an icon to even consider trying to find someone who could fill the remarkable mould he hammered out for himself in the red and white of Arsenal. He oozed swagger in a way that was far from cocky.

Everyone remembers the outlandishly brilliant goal he scored against Newcastle United back in his heydey; it was a thing of beauty that transcends football. Even for those who don’t really buy into what the game has become or represents today, that manoeuvre was a thing of sheer beauty that forces us all to admire it. Bergkamp was, in that moment, as flexible and adroit as the most accomplished of gymnasts and as quick-in-thought as the most forward-thinking of philosophers.

Watch it again (and again, and again) and you’ll still see it in a hypno-mesmerised state. It’s almost impossible to regard it without being enchanted by its complexity, its rationale, its stunning absurdity. There hasn’t been a goal quite like it at such a high level. That is to say, it is unique in the technique he employs to not only get Robert Pires’ drilled diagonal pass under control but to manipulate the power and pace of it with an outrageous flick and swivel around his marker. It is football at its grandest, but also at its most instinctive – simply does the extraordinary to bamboozle Nikos Dabizas and the goalkeeper, and it is precisely his fluidity, reflex and silky savvy that makes it all possible. That goal collided worlds, fused disciplines and took our breaths away. It really is one of the greatest goals ever scored, but the most impressive thing about it is that it was – arguably – not even the magnum opus of his astonishingly captivating oeuvre.

Yes, he created art with his football, but if anything he was too humble and too rooted in the natural innocence of football as a boyish pastime to see it as something as pretentious as high-art or poetry. Bergkamp is, and was, purely a master of a game who knew all the right moves, all the perfect combinations and had a perfect view of the entire pitch in his mind’s eye.

He played it as if he was watching from a plateau. He’ll always be on another level.

Call me irrational but lets retire the jersey no. 10 forever.. (‘Til a saviour comes at least!)



  1. Great player! will always miss him and the rest. He was a joy to watch.

    outside that though
    anybody watched Germany last night? Ozil was outstanding.. Which begs the question i keep asking myself and everyone of us.
    Ozil, Giroud, Ramsey, Campbell, and a few others always, ALWAYS perform well on International duties. Is the problem coming from the players or from the set up of the team? Playing players out of position, giving them too much freedom and a few others. I constantly read people say Ozil is Average just because he’s in a team of full of average players if you take away Sanchez,Kos and Cazorla and I can’t help but laugh..
    If Wenger can find a way to tweak his tactics and motivate these players to perform the same way they do for country then it’ll be easy.
    But we all know Wenger wont

    1. I was the first to press like for your marvellous comment., How anyone can possibly dislike it, as two have, questions their sanity. Perhaps they are relatives of Wenger!

  2. when i reflect on our team with DB i recall thinking we would break down anything that dared to set up in front of us and definitely we would score – now when we role out i still sense we’ll score altho the script i envisage is one where the opposition manages a goal in reply. sad to say we’re not robust any-more although our glorious ‘tank’ looks like he’s adding some defensive sparkle to the side. i anticipate lacazette comes ready to follow in the tradition of exceptional arsenal hitmen.

  3. To be fair stunning goals are
    a great joy to behold especially
    when scored by your team 🙂
    But games are won by the
    number scored not the quality.
    Two one yard toe pokes beats one 40 yard thunder bolt every time.
    Smudger Smith and Miki Thomas’s goals in’89 v Liverpool at Anfield
    were not classic goals by any means but they won a League title.
    Ideally we score more and score better but
    a 1-0 toe poke goal win at Chelsea will do me 🙂

  4. Ozil is lump fish to Bergkamps caviar; cheap plonk to his best champagne. No comparison at all, both have skill, but one had balls too and sublime skill and fought for the shirt. In short Dennis was a man(or more truthfully , a God), not a mouse eh, Mesut?

    1. I 2nd that.

      What a legend Bergkamp is and what a player he was. He turned up when it counted and never used the excuse of he needed others around him to bring his ‘A’ game. The man ooozed class and ability..

      Thanks Bruce Rioch!

  5. Notice how Viera tackles the ball, gives to Dennis was about to go forward but remembers his positioning !!! They should show some of these to Xhaka and Ramsey

  6. The most complete and gifted Arsenal player I have ever seen, and that includes Henry. I wonder what he would be valued at today? The 3 goals he scored against Newcastle, Leicester & Argentina are still among the best goals ever scored by anyone. An absolute master and humble with it which is quite a rarity these days. Get him back to the club in some coaching capacity, what an example and inspiration he will be to our youngsters and senior players alike. The word ‘great’ is used too much and without justification today but he was a true great in every way.

  7. Even though an old post from 2017 watching Arsenal’s greatest ever player, and even Thierry would admit that, never fails to make me envious. Why couldn’t I play like that? Had me in stitches the way he made decent players look like amateurs. The long shot against Leicester had Casey Keller running round the post to collect the ball, Hilarious. I fell in love with Bergkamp’s skills as far back as 1990 watching him play for Ajax. Couldn’t get enough of him on Channel 4 Even the likes of Messi and Ronaldo as great as they are never played with Dennis’s grace and style. I was privileged to watch him for ten years from a seat just behind the old directors box at Highbury and I can honestly say, him alone was worth every penny of my season ticket. One of the greatest players I’ve ever seen play the game and believe me, in my 60+ years watching the game I’ve seen them all.

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