Dennis Bergkamp celebrates his 43rd birthday today, so what finer tribute can their be to the non-flying Dutchman than a hastily assembled collection of his finest moments pinched from a generic video sharing website?
Having made his debut for Ajax in 1986 in a world where FatBoy Slim wasn’t a superstar DJ, but an idiot with a crucifix shaved into his high-fade who made it to number one with an a capella version of an ode to Christianity, Bergkamp chipped, lobbed and scooped his way to notoriety in Amsterdam before catching the gaze of Inter Milan in '93.
Bergkamp didn’t exactly enjoy immediate success in his first season with Inter; the Italian giants finished one point above the relegation zone – although he did finish joint top scorer in the UEFA Cup that season, scoring gems like this en route to victory in the final that year.
Alas high points in Italy were about as regular as free-flowing traffic on the M1 (warning! video contains classic Ray Parlour M1 anecdote) and Bergkamp was branded the ‘Donkey of the week' by one Italian hack, hastening his exit via aeropl…train to north London in 1995.
The Dutchman probably should have dashed back to Italy after encountering Ian Wright in a petrol station upon signing for the Gunners. ‘’We were nowhere near Arsenal!," Wright gleefully exclaims as he comes to terms with their being more to London than Highbury.
Wright’s reaction to seeing Bergkamp, or as he puts it ‘this foreign geezer putting his petrol in the wrong place?’ - "I started banging the steering wheel and shouting ‘waaaaaaah!’"
Bergkamp made his debut for Arsenal against Middleborough in '95 but failed to score in his first give games for the club before opening his account against Southampton – but when the goals did come, by jingo they came.
Who can forget his peach of an effort against Leicester, the entirely deliberate turning of the Good Ship Nikos Dabizas, his storming strike against Bolton in ’96 (49 secs), his goal against Southampton and probably the best moment of his career; his winner against Argentina in the ‘98 World Cup that almost sent the Dutch commentator to an early grave.
His 11 years with Arsenal yielded an astonishing three league titles and four FA Cups, with the ‘Iceman’ scoring a total of 120 goals in his 423 appearances for the Gunners before he called time on his career following defeat in the 2006 Champions League final.
Now the assistant manager with his former club Ajax, Bergkamp showed he still had it with this sublime training ground effort that emerged on the internet last year. Still revered as one of the finest payers to have donned an Arsenal shirt and hailed as the man who provided the spark for Arsene Wenger’s revolution in north London, he has been linked with a return to the Emirates in a coaching capacity – but until then sit back and enjoy the Dutch master in full flight.
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