Ryan Giggs v Dennis Bergkamp: Battle of the Legends

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Football News

Manchester United midfielder Ryan Giggs celebrates his 40th birthday today (Friday), and the veteran has been receiving praise from a number of high-profile figures within the game.

One of those to speak highly of the Welsh wizard in Arsene Wenger, with the Arsenal boss witnessing first hand what the player is capable of on a number of occasions.

And, in his kind words towards Giggs, he’s created a debate that is sure to get people talking, comparing the veteran to Dutch great Dennis Bergkamp.

"He reminds me a bit of Dennis Bergkamp because he played until he was 37, 38 and what you respect as a manager is not only the talents of the players but the love and passion for the game,” said the Gunners chief.

With those words ringing in our ears, we thought we’d meet the battle head-on and compare the two to see if we can pick a winner. It’s going to be difficult. The easiest place to start is best goal.

And, for Ryan Giggs there can only be one. What makes it even better, in this debate at least, is that it came after Bergkamp missed a penalty in the final minute of normal time during their FA Cup semi-final clash.

Had he scored, then Giggs would have never had the opportunity to set-off on a mazy extra-time run and fire the Red Devils on a road to the treble.

Bergkamp, the King of the great goal, has scored some absolute stunners in his career, and Arsenal were lucky to see several of them. His best for the club from north London was probably at Leicester, when he controlled, beat the defender and fired past Kasey Keller.

But, that’s beaten by his effort for the Netherlands at the ’98 World Cup, when the non-flying Dutchman controlled a long diagonal instantly, beat his man and then curled the ball into the far post with the outside of his right foot.

Volume of success has to be considered in this debate, and nobody in the world compares to Giggs. He has 13 Premier League titles, four FA Cups, four League Cups and two Champions League trophies to his name – all at the same club.

Bergkamp, meanwhile, won three English domestic titles with Arsenal and an Eredivisie trophy whilst with Ajax. He won four FA Cups whilst in north London, and also claimed UEFA Cup honours in Holland and in Italy (with Inter Milan).

The fact that he’s played in three different countries works in his favour, although he missed a number of big European games due to his fear of flying, which wasn’t ideal for the Wenger & Co.

In many ways, this personal battle is a smaller version of Arsenal and Manchester United's great rivalry in the late 90s and at the turn of the Millennium. Bergkamp represents the style and flare that personified Wenger's team, whilst Giggs is all about work-rate and consistency with a touch of class the often separates Manchester United from the rest.

When those two collide, it makes for an intriguing battle. Unsurprising, there was little love lost between the teams - but always a mutual respect. You'd imagine that respect is shared between these two great individuals.

I'm intentionally digressing from who wins this 'battle', but a decision has to be made. Despite their differing styles, you ask any football fan who is the better player, and they have an opinion.

In a straw pole of eight people in the GiveMeSport office, four voted for Giggs (two Manchester United fans) and four voted for Bergkamp (two Arsenal fans).

From a purist's perspective, it seems that the later is the right choice. But, it's hard to be anything but complimentary to a man like Giggs, who has played at the highest level for several years more than Bergkamp. He remains a football force at 40.

And, on the basis that I'm a Football League fan, substance wins over style. 5-4 to Giggs - let the debate rage...

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Manchester United
Ryan Giggs
Dennis Bergkamp

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