So long and thanks for all the fish, Dennis!
Dennis Bergkamp retired after 11 wonderful years of soccer service for Arsenal. He is an increasing rarity seen in the world of soccer nowadays, the player that considers allegiance to a club and country more important than merely lining their pockets. He was an artist with his ability to create and score as one of the best strikers to operate in the hole. Pele included him in the world’s best 125 players of all times. In his 11 years at Arsenal he scored 121 goals and set up 166 more.
Most impressive in the Iceman was his exquisite first touch and sublime ball control. That touch led him to measure out passes that were precise, shoot goals that the goalie never saw coming. It is amazing the nano space that Bergkmap could work out of to create those goals. He was an artiste, and each one of his goals stood out, one more superb than the other. His goals were without effort, just pure finesse, and the one thing that sticks to my mind was that right foot cocked up in the air, caressing that ball through to goal. None of Bergkamp’s goals were the meaty type, they were elusive, and one loses count of the number of times that he found the remote corners of the goal. The shortest distance between two points is a straight line, but in Bergkamps’ case it was usually a graceful ellipsis.
My memories of Bergkamp are those years in Arsenal in the years 1997-1998, when Arsenal won their Golden double. Those years of that unforgettable team of Bergkamp, Overmaars, Vieira, Petit, Anelka, Seaman, Adams, Parlour, Platt, Wright, Keown. Bergkamp came in for an ailing Ian Wright and took over the attack. It was just a joy to see the speedy Overmaars with his blistering pace on the left and the grace and beauty of Bergkamp creating and scoring goals. Tony Adams and Petit being the pillars. Vieira at his beastly best with his strength and stamina.
Bergkamp plays his testimonial match against his old club Ajax today, July 22nd in the first match to be hosted in Arsenal’s spanking new Emirates Stadium. Arsenal has confirmed that the Number 10 Jersey, which Bergkamp wore for 11 seasons will be vacant and probably retired for a few seasons in his honor.