10 Things We Learnt In Lockdown With Dennis Bergkamp Part 1 by Dan Smith
Last week I suggested that maybe Arsenal.com were trying to save some money for their Lockdown series, but clearly they were saving up for Dennis Bergkamp, a.k.a, one of the greatest players in our history. As you can imagine for a legend who was at our club for 12 years the episode has been divided into two parts.
Here are 10 Things We Learnt In Lockdown With Dennis Bergkamp (Part 1)
Italy lied To Him
Bergkamp only scored 11 goals in Serie A. In those two years in Italy he felt ‘lied’ to and that there had been ‘broken promises.’ This included having to play for 3 managers and being played on the right-hand side of a front three.
First Meeting With Ian Wright
Ian Wright has also told this story from pre-season 1995. Like gooners everywhere he had read the rumours that Arsenal might be signing Dennis Bergkamp!!!!! When he pulls over off the motorway to fill up with petrol, he spots none other than the striker himself. Like a 10-year-old boy who just met his idol, Wright proceeds to shout his name and give him the biggest hug. The problem is that Wright knew who he was, but did Bergkamp know who this stranger holding him was?
English Players Rebuilt His Confidence
Bergkamp admits to losing allot of his confidence in Italy. Yet when he arrived for his first training session in England there was zero awkward initiation, demand to sing a song or hard tackle from Keown to test him. Instead his peers were in awe of his talents, most likely because they were aware he could do things most of them couldn’t.
He Was Made For English Football
He’s too polite to say it on the podcast, but I don’t think many people spoke to Bergkamp when he was in Italy. The Dutchman says from day one he was made to feel welcome in London. He compares the respective dressing rooms. At Ajax it was quiet, Inter was too serious, whereas at Highbury he’d be shocked by the loud music, the shouting, the banter …. only to see how focused everyone got upon kick off.
He Liked To Assist More Than Score Goals
He explains his personality as never wanting all the attention on himself. He never strived to be a top scorer but instead had more satisfaction creating them. That’s why he enjoyed playing with the likes of Ian Wright, Anelka and Henry. They were selfish in their obsession with scoring, he was driven by creating goals, the perfect balance.
Had Doubts About His Arsenal Future
When Bruce Rioch was sacked, Bergkamp had fears his experience in Italy was repeating itself. His first season at Inter Milan also resulted in managerial changes so he again worried certain promises would now not be followed by a new coach. It took the club so long to announce a new manager the players were left in the dark and our star man was feeling ‘lied too’ once again.
He Researched Arsene Wenger
Dennis was reassured when the club announced the arrival of Arsene Wenger. While most were saying ‘Arsene Who’, Bergkamp had no doubt he and his new boss shared the same footballing ethos. The striker was familiar with the Frenchman’s work as he remembered him from his Ajax days, the only other club who played the 4-3-3 formation was Monaco, coached by Mr Wenger.
The Golf Days
Early on in his Highbury years, Bergkamp would socialise a lot with Patrick Vieira, inviting him to join the English lads in a game of golf. Bergkamp was good, if not as talented as Ray Parlour and legend has it that Viera was keen and eager but wasn’t aware of his own strength. It was on these days out our striker formed a friendship with Vic Akers, the former women’s team manager and men’s kit man.
Driving Round Europe
You know in the film Space Jam; they hire a man to make sure Michael Jordan is always happy? That’s what Vic Akers got to do for Bergkamp. The striker had a fear of flying so would be driven while the rest of the squad took a plane (even to Manchester or Newcastle). So that he wouldn’t be alone, it became a tradition for Akers to travel with him. How many gooners would have loved that job?
Henry Was The Best Striker He Played With
It’s not a huge statement given Henry is viewed as one of the best to ever play the game, yet Bergkamp offers an insight into Henry’s mindset. The Frenchmen had this desire to be great at everything. So not intent on just scoring the most, he then wanted to top the assists charts. If he read an opposing defender was viewed as quick, he wanted to be quicker than him on matchday.