10 Things We Learnt In Lockdown With Dennis Bergkamp (Part 2) by Dan Smith
Here’s Part 2 of Arsenal.com Lockdown podcast with Dennis Bergkamp. I have to say he’s been one of the most honest guests so far and if anything, I really wanted the host to push him a little bit more on certain subjects.
Here are 10 Things I learnt in Lockdown with Dennis Bergkamp (Part 2).
In the last decade it’s been fair to say our squad has lacked leaders. Yet here was Bergkamp reminding us of the captains he played under. First Tony Adams, then Viera then Henry. He rightly points out not too many clubs could have three consecutive skippers that good. Those were the days, now our armband has just become a prop to give to our best player who we know wants to leave (Fabregas, Van Persie, Vermaelen, Koscielny, Aubameyang?).
Not surprisingly the Dutchman didn’t need anyone to lead by example. He says his character is to be obsessed with giving 100 percent even in training. He simply is bemused by anyone who doesn’t take the responsibility of being a professional footballer seriously. Maybe he should have done his research before he came to Highbury?
Shocked By What He Discovered
Has too much respect for his peers to name individuals but Bergkamp was shocked by the standards he discovered when arriving. It’s well documented there was a drinking culture at the club. That as well as the food his new teammates ate, time keeping, the pranks, etc, this was the opposite to the strict regime he was used to in Italy. He would have to wait over a year for a certain Arsene Wenger to show up with revolutionary dietary and exercise methods. No wonder he got along with his new manager so well.
Actions Speak Louder Than Words
As already mentioned, Bergkamp would be angry if he felt those around him were not taking things seriously. Yet he was not the type to shout and scream. Not that he was shy, as his disciplinary record in his first few years in England will prove.It got to the point where a person would know if he were upset with you, because he would kick you in training and fight you if that was what was needed. Something tells me he had to kick quite a few in his first couple of years in North London.
Lee Dixon punched him.
The irony to this story that both men have now shared is that they remain close friends 18 years after last playing together. Both were recovering from injuries so were eager to prove they were fit enough for that following weekend. It seems both got carried away with Bergkamp standing on the same calf that was Dixon’s injury. The right back responded with a punch and got one back in return. And yet who does Dixon name the best he’s ever played with? That’s right. You couldn’t imagine the current squad fighting, could you? Which is one of the reason s they are 9th not 1st.
Remember how every season Arsene Wenge, no matter where we finished, would insist that the youngsters he had introduced had such a desire that it was the best spirit he’s seen in training? Well one of his senior pros clearly disagreed, showing you that sometimes Mr Wenger just said what he thought sounded good. Bergkamp’s version of events is many of these youngsters not having the correct attitude once they settled. His perception was many thought that now at that level they didn’t have to work hard, and would be cocky to the older lads if they pulled them up on things. He doesn’t name names but adds they faded away without any medals. The only kid he did name was Fabregas but that was explaining that the Spaniard had the correct attitude.
Van Persie ‘s mentor
Bergkamp admits being surprised that Van Persie had zero attitude problems, after gaining a reputation with Feyenoord for having behaviour problems. Instead he found the youngster keen to learn, on and off the pitch, with the two families often socialising. Like Fabregas he saw Van Persie had the characteristics that other youngsters lacked.
Wenger Was Willing To Sell Him
Even in this podcast he seemed hurt by the one time that Mr Wenger gave him the option to leave if that’s what he wanted. Gooners might remember that once our striker got into his thirties, he was only being offered one year rolling contracts. In the 2000-01 season he had a poor goal return and his manager felt that maybe the forward wasn’t happy. Of course, history tell s us he got better with age, instrumental in our Unbeaten season.
Has Plans To Coach In England
Certainly, he didn’t try to fight the idea that he could one day manage the Gunners. After all, if Arteta got the job after one coaching role, why shouldn’t a legend who got some experience at Ajax? He admits there was a point last year when he and his wife discussed that it might be time soon to return to the UK. I just wish he were asked did he think his fear of flying could be an issue?
He Has Contacts
It is not surprisingly, given he’s one of the greatest to ever wear the shirt, Bergkamp implied that when and if he were ever ready, he has those at the club he could contact. His agent has told him numerous times that Arsenal would find a role for him like they have for a Pires, Freddie, BFG, etc but timing wasn’t right. If Arteta and Vieira make our shortlist, then Bergkamp one day managing us is a possibility.
Lee Dixon is not alone in stating that Dennis Bergkamp was the greatest player they played with at Arsenal. From the first time he arrived at Highbury they were amazed not only by his ability, but his work ethic to do extra to be better and his selfless desire to work harder and look after his body for the team rather than self aggrandisement.
I wish Arsenal would find a position for Dennis he was the best player we had and we should invite him back A.S.A.P if you cut him he would bleed ARSENAL blood
Above all and above anything else his blood would be “professional” blood. Probably the very first Arsenal player EVER to be truly professional, in it’s wider meaning than merely being paid.
Nice one, Dan 👍
My all time Arsenal great. Would love to see him back coaching the youngsters, what an example he would be!!