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The Dutch Master, Dennis Bergkamp
Posted Dec 22, 2010 by Shaun Edwards
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It’s pretty hard to imagine in the current climate of exotic foreigners playing exquisite football, but there was a time when the English Premier League consisted entirely of players like Steve Bruce, Chris Waddle and David Hirst: unglamorous Englishmen who would kick each other to shreds and then go for a pint afterwards. Two men changed this perception: the first was Eric Cantona, the other was the Dutch wizard Dennis Bergkamp.
When he was signed in June of 1995 from Inter Milan, Bergkamp remarkably struggled with the physicality of the English game, but was soon bringing the Gunners to a whole new level of glamour and sophistication, a world away from ‘boring, boring Arsenal’ that the side had been dubbed previously.
The Dutchman performed some truly remarkable feats when at the peak of his game in around 1999: in 1997, he managed to come first, second and third in Match of the Day’s goal of the month competition, and in the 1998 World Cup he scored a beautiful goal to take the Dutch past the Argentinian side in the quarter final.
It’s hard to explain what a massive influence Bergkamp did have on the Premier League at the time, as not only was he one of the first world class foreign players to move to England following the Heysel disaster, he was (aside from Cantona) a completely unique footballer, with poise and skill used to simply out think defenders. Like Teddy Sheringham, Bergkamp’s brain was his greatest attribute.
It says a lot about the Dutchman’s impact on the Gunner’s that the Arsenal fans chose to dedicate the final day of his final season to the striker, declaring the last game at Highbury to be ‘Dennis Bergkamp Day’. In 2008, he was voted the Gunner’s greatest ever player, above even such men as Ian Wright, David Seaman and Thierry Henry.