Back in 2010 the blog “The Equaliser” challenged fellow bloggers and readers to contribute with articles about their favourite footballers. This text was my simple but honest contribution.
The guy never won nothing really worthy. Three UEFA cups, I grant that, but still… No Champions, no Euro Cup, no World Cup. But who cares? Playing football isn’t (shouldn’t be) all about winning trophies. I always preferred the Johaan Cruijff’s “best to be remembered by the style” approach. And Dennis Bergkamp was all about style. The poise, the total control of the ball, of space, of thought and action…
And what to say of his sense of fidelity, throughout his career? I also value that. He always seemed well with his life, centered, balanced. He played in three clubs. God, three clubs! We may as well say two, since the Internazionale experience was not at all that great (which for me is another extra point… not being totally successful in Serie A can be seen as good sign…). So, two clubs it is! Not that many players can pull this one through. He was born and educated at Ajax (from 1986 to 1993 — his best goals here) and matured and ended in glory at Arsenal (from 1995 to 2006 — his best goals here). Being this faithful to one’s teams is not for the average player!
The same goes for the oranje elftal. From 1990 to 2000 he played 79 games and scored 37 goals. Surely, those were ten good years, with plenty of great games, decisive games. One of the best to ever played with the orange jersey. And the luck to ever played with some outstanding Dutch players, such as Kluivert (the only one until now to have surpassed him in most goals scored), Overmars, Bronckhorst, Winter, Koeman, brothers De Boer, Van der Sar, Cocu, Davids, Seedorf and many others.
And, of course, if style, allure, sense of fidelity, integrity and whatnot weren’t enough, for scoring the most brilliant goal ever! Yes, for me, being two years younger than him, I cannot recall another goal so brilliant as this one in the last 40 years. Sorry, I cannot. Stade Vélodrome, Marseille, 4th July 1998. Quarter-finals, Holland vs. Argentina. One minute to the final whistle, and the game is tied 1-1. Frank de Boer makes a 60-yard aerial pass to Bergkamp. With three (!!!) right-footed touches Bergkamp dominates the ball (!), puts it in between Ayala’s legs (!) and fires a volley with the outside of his right foot past the goalkeeper (!), sending Holland to the semi-final against Brazil. That goal is historical, is beyond football. It’s magic. (you can watch it here) I still can hear myself screaming whenever I think of that afternoon! Goosebumps allover!
I even find his aerophobia endearing. Being known as the non-Flying Dutchman is quite something!
He’s a player I’ll never forget as long as live.