Arsenal History: The legendary Dennis Bergkamp who won two Doubles under Wenger

“There’s only one Dennis Bergkamp”- one of Arsenals  most phenomenal midfielders in history!

Dennis Bergkamp known for his grand vision, epic assists and even more marvellous 120 goals finished with over 300 appearances at Arsenal in a transformative 11 year career.

Arsenal pioneer and manager Arsene Wenger later declared “I was very lucky to find Dennis Bergkamp already in the squad when I arrived at Arsenal. You do not find a player like that everywhere you go, it was a blessing gift when I arrived.”

The “flying Dutchman” is such an icon to this day at the Emirates that a bronze statue of the still adored legend was constructed ten years ago, with his right leg in the air holding the ball and his left suited and booted to the ground, with his eyes focused staring straight at the ball as if he was actually still playing.

The midfielder who once as a boy spent countless hours playing ball in the roads of Amsterdam by himself where he lived went on to achieve a cracking 16 trophies in total during his 25 year football career. At Ajax Bergkamp clinched one Eredivisie (top-flight of Dutch football), the Dutch Cup two times, a single Cup Winners Cup and a UEFA Cup. At Inter Milan he made it two UEFA Cups and during his time at Arsenal he completed his trophy cabinet even further. He secured three Premierships, four FA Cups and three Charity Shields.

Bergkamp played nearly 30 times during the 2003/04 “Invincible” Premier League campaign, when the title was sealed by The Gunners at arch rivals Tottenham Hotspurs White Hart Lane in an empathic and unpredictable 2-2 draw which saw Arsenal throw away their 2-0 lead. With Arsenal fighting hard to remain unbeaten during their last Premiership match of the season, Bergkamp assisted Vieira to the winner in a 2-1 victory over Leicester City which originally saw ex-Gunner Paul Dickov slot in the opener. This was the last title he joined in with during his time with the Gunners.

Six years earlier he had won his first two pieces of silverware at Highbury during the 1997/98 campaign. Arsenal’s first ever Premier League title was lifted alongside the FA Cup in a 2-0 win over Newcastle United to wrap up the double. That season he flew in his first hat-trick at The Gunners against Leicester City in December 1997 on his way to become his side’s main talisman with 22 strikes for the campaign. In August he earned his first Premier League Player of the Month accolade. By the end of it all he was awarded both the Football Writing Association Footballer of the Year and Player’s Football Association player of the year in 1998. On top of this he was inducted into the PFA Team of the Year in 1998.

After a patient four year wait at Highbury he finally added a couple of more winner’s medals to his cabinet come 2002. Again the Premiership and FA Cup were grabbed after Chelsea were dismantled 2-0, witnessing Arsenal herald their third and final double in their history and Bergkamp’s second. Bergkamp played a memorable role during The Gunners FA Cup run, after nailing in the goal in the FA Cup fourth round which saw Liverpool destroyed. The referee showed Bergkamp the red card after a two footed tackle on Jamie Carragher who later was also forced to leave the field following chucking a coin at the fans. The midfielder then endured a three match ban.

Wenger’s side may have left behind the Premiership come the anti-climax of the 2002/03 season, but not the FA Cup. Bergkamp rose to victory after Southampton were marginally defeated 1-0 after 90 minutes in the final. During the Cup run he found his 100th goal for the Gunners in an FA Cup Third Round victory over Oxford United.

Two years later Bergkamp put around his neck his final Arsenal and FA Cup winners’ medal in 2005 after Manchester United were beaten in the final on penalties after a 0-0 stalemate following 120 minutes of action.  The Dutchman came off the bench just past the hour mark replacing Freddie Ljungberg.

After losing out on a 2006 Champions League medal with The Gunners after a late 2-1 defeat to Barca Bergkamp stopped playing for good after 11 years at Arsenal. He signed originally for £7.5 million in 1995, becoming then Bruce Ricoh’s first buy during his short reign at Highbury before Wenger arrived in September 1996, for the next 21 years.

Arsenal paid a fitting tribute to his career by holding a testimonial match for him at the new Emirates Stadium in July 2006 – being the first ever game to be played at the venue.  Arsenal ran out 2-1 winners over his boyhood club Ajax.

During a decade long International career from 1990 to 2000 with the Netherlands Bergkamp collected 80 caps for his country after bagging 37 strikes in that time. He featured in Euro 1992, 1994 World Cup, Euro 1996, World Cup 1998 before deciding it was time to pass up on his position on the International stage.

The Dutchman returned to his local side Ajax where he helped them out as the assistant manager between 2011 and 2017. During that period of time the Lucky Ajax won the Eredivisie three times and were runners up in the 2016/17 Europa League to Manchester United in his final months of management.

World football and Arsenal wouldn’t be the same without Bergkamp who was recently added to the Premier League Hall of Fame in 2021 and previously installed as one of the best FIFA 100 living footballers.

Liam Harding

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  1. “Midfielder”? No way!!
    Dennis was a forward, though not a prime striker.

    An article which does even not KNOW where perhaps our greatest player ever played, cannot be taken seiously!

    1. He started at Ajax as a “normal” centre forward, I believe, but when he eventually joined arsenal, he transitioned to being more of a second striker, I think because he thought he’d be most useful supplying Wright – the thing I do remember most of him at arsenal, besides his brilliant first touch, was his passing ability. I also remember them calling his role the “bergkamp position” – it was basically the no 10 trequartista(?) role more commonly played in Italy at the time, I think, but it was unusual in England at the time.
      Anyway, you’re right, he was a forward, just thought it was interesting.

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