Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughA look back at Dennis Bergkamp - Arsenal's non-flying Dutchman - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough A look back at Dennis Bergkamp - Arsenal's non-flying Dutchman - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

A look back at Dennis Bergkamp – Arsenal’s non-flying Dutchman

When Dennis Bergkamp joined Arsenal in 1995 for a club record fee of £7.5million, it was seen as a significant signing for the Gunners. Arsenal were going through a period of decline and Bergkamp was already an established international player and he would play a huge part of the success Arsenal would later find.

His first season didn’t go as planned and he failed to score in his first seven games giving the press plenty of ammunition to question the transfer. He ended up with just 11 games in 33 appearances but at the end of the season Arsene Wenger came in and that’s when it all changed.

Bergkamp started his career at Ajax, coming through the highly successful youth system. He enjoyed a highly successful period for his hometown club scoring 122 goals in 239 games. His success prompted plenty of interest in Europe and it was Inter Milan who eventually signed him for £7.1 million.

His two seasons were slightly disappointing. In the first season, Inter finished just one point away from relegation in 13th place and in the second season Bergkamp suffered from stress injuries and fatigue from the 1994 world cup. He only scored eight league goals in the first season and just five in the second. He did manage to win the Uefa Cup in his first season ending the competition as the joint top scorer with eight goals.

But when new chairman, Massimo Moratti, came in and promised to spend big, Bergkamp found his place under threat, especially when new signing Maurizio Ganz came in.

And that’s how his new chapter at Arsenal came about.  His first season under Wenger led to him becoming the main focus in attack with Wenger realising his talents. He made 13 assists in that season highlighting his improvement under the Frenchman.

But it was the 1997-98 season where he really flourished. Arsenal would go onto win the league and cup double and the Dutchman would score 22 goals at a strike rate of 0.57. He scored his first hat-trick for the club against Leicester of which Martin O’Neill said was the ‘greatest hat-trick he’d ever seen’.

The next season would not bring success as Manchester United would go on to win a historic treble after Bergkamp missed a penalty in extra time of the FA Cup semi-final, one of the greatest FA Cup games of all time. He would have to wait until 2002 for any further success. Appearances had been limited due to the emergence of Thierry Henry and Sylvain Wiltord and he was only a late substitute for the defeat against Liverpool in the 2001 FA Cup final.

But they would avenge that defeat the next season by winning the 2002 FA Cup against Chelsea but also regaining the league. He scored 15 goals in 33 appearances and scored one of the greatest goals the Premier league as ever seen. Coming back from a ban, he received the ball just outside the box facing away from goal. He flicked the ball around Newcastle defender, Nikos Dabizas, and he turned the other side of him before slotting it in the corner of the goal.

He scored his 100th goal for the club the next season but failed to regain the title although they did win the FA Cup for the second successive defeating Southampton 2-0. At the end of the season he signed a one year contract extension and embarked on one of the most amazing league campaigns ever seen. Arsenal went the entire season undefeated on their way to the league title leading them to be dubbed the ‘invincibles’. He then signed another extension at the end of the season.

The next season wasn’t as successful as they failed to defend their title and finished second although they did defeat Manchester United on penalties in the FA Cup final. With the crowd shouting ‘one more year’ he did sign again but it would be his last season. His last season didn’t go to plan either as Arsenal finished fourth. Arsenal made the Championsleague final but lost 2-1 to Barcelona, Bergkamp would be an unused sub and would never play for Arsenal again.

The Dutchman was the perfect player in Wenger’s system. His touch was second to none and he could see things that other players would never be able to see. He wasn’t a goal scoring machine but he created many goals for the likes of Henry and Wiltord, giving Arsenal one of their most successful periods ever.

Bergkamp was pure class and will forever be an Arsenal legend.