Dennis Bergkamp

From Academic Kids

Dennis Bergkamp (born May 10, 1969 in Amsterdam) is a Dutch professional football player, and a former player for the Netherlands national football team.


Early life

His parents, who were football fanatics, named him after Manchester United and Scotland striker Denis Law, though they altered the spelling of the name. It is claimed that this was either due to Dutch regulations, or that "Denis" was too similar to the female form "Denise".


Ajax Amsterdam

Bergkamp was brought up through Ajax Amsterdam's famous youth system, joining the club at age 12. He was given his professional debut by coach Johann Cruyff on December 14, 1986 against Roda JC, and went on to make 14 appearances that season. He played as a substitute in the 1987 European Cup Winners Cup final against Lokomotive Leipzig, which Ajax won.

The following season, Bergkamp became a regular for Ajax, winning the Dutch league in 1990, the UEFA Cup in 1992 and the KNVB Cup in 1993. From 1991 to 1993 Bergkamp was top Dutch scorer, and he was voted "Player of the Year" in 1992 and 1993. In all, Bergkamp scored 122 goals in 239 games for his hometown club.


In the summer of 1993, Bergkamp and his Ajax team-mate Wim Jonk were signed by Internazionale of Milan. However, his time in Italy was less successful. Although he won a second UEFA Cup in 1994, he found it hard to adapt to the style of play, scoring just 11 times in 50 appearances. Bergkamp's poor form was not helped by his frosty relationship with the Italian press, and indeed some of his team-mates.


After two unhappy seasons at Inter, Bergkamp was signed by Arsenal boss Bruce Rioch in June 1995. Bergkamp had to adapt to the English style of play, and it took him eight games before he managed to score his first goal. Slowly but surely, Bergkamp's stature grew, playing as a forward behind the main striker, Ian Wright, with whom he formed an effective partnership. Bergkamp has been regarded by many football critics such as Alan Hansen as being the greatest foreign player to grace the English game.

Bergkamp hit his best form for Arsenal after the arrival of Arsene Wenger in September 1996. Arsenal won a Premiership and FA Cup double in the 1997-8 season (although Bergkamp missed the cup final with an injury), and Bergkamp was voted PFA Player of the Year. In September 1997 he became the first and so far only player to have come first, second and third in Match of the Day's 'Goal of the Month' competition. He scored 16 times that season, as well as being involved in setting up many more.

While his form since has not matched the spectacle of that season, Bergkamp continued to be a regular in the Arsenal team. He won the double again in 2002, the FA Cup in 2003 and the Premiership for a third time in 2004. The club's domestic success has not been matched in European competition, the closest to a medal coming when they lost the 2000 UEFA Cup final on penalties.

Bergkamp's arrival at Arsenal was significant, not only as he was one of the first world-class foreign players to join an English club since the lifting of the Heysel ban in 1991, but also because he was a major contributor to the club's return to success after the stagnation of the mid-1990s. He is held in high regard by the club's fans, so much so that he has been nicknamed "God" by some.

However, Bergkamp's future at Arsenal has recently been in doubt, due to Arsenal's reluctance in offering him a new deal. Bergkamp had said he would retire from football if not offered a new contract with Arsenal for the 2005-06 campaign, despite interest from his former club Ajax. Following Arsenal's penalty shootout victory over Manchester United in the FA Cup Final in Cardiff, it was revealed he would sign a one-year contract extension, keeping him at the London club for their final season at the Arsenal Stadium at Highbury.

Through end of the 2004/2005 season, Bergkamp had hit 118 goals for Arsenal. His first 100 goals can be seen on the Centurions DVD along with 100 goals by Thierry Henry.


Bergkamp made his international debut for the Netherlands in 1990 against Italy. His first major tournament was Template:Ec, where the Dutch defended their title. Bergkamp impressed (catching the eye of Inter, who would later sign him), but the Dutch lost on penalties in the semi-finals.

Bergkamp also impressed in the Template:Wc, playing in all of his side's matches, scoring a spectacular goal against Brazil, a match the Dutch ultimately lose 3-2. Holland disappointed in Euro 96, with the squad riven by in-fighting, although Bergkamp still scored once, and set up Patrick Kluivert's consolatory goal against England that got the side into the quarter-finals.

In the Template:Wc, Bergkamp scored three times, the most memorable of which being the winning goal in the final minute of the quarter-final against Argentina. Bergkamp controlled a long 50-yard aerial pass from Frank De Boer, reverse-flicking it past defender Roberto Ayala with his right foot, before firing a half-volley past the keeper at a tight angle. It was widely regarded as one of the best goals of the tournament.

The Netherlands joint-hosted Template:Ec2 and were one of the favourites. After progressing through the "group of death", they lost on penalties to Italy in the semi-finals. Bergkamp didn't score at all but still played an important role. After the defeat, Bergkamp announced his retirement from international football. He ended his international career second on the all-time list of goal scorers for the Dutch national team, with 37 goals in 79 games.

Style of play

Bergkamp is a striker who stands out more because of the quality of his goals than the quantity. He is the kind of player who can leave the two or three defenders he passed wondering what just happened. He likes to score from outside the box or carry the ball into the box to score. A case in point is the majestic goal he scored against Newcastle on the March 2, 2002, which later earned him Goal of the Season.

  • Dennis is standing just outside the box, with his back towards the defender.
  • A long pass from the midfield comes flying low over the ground.
  • Without even looking towards the defender, he touches the ball only once, leg out-stretched.
  • The ball curves past the defender, but Dennis also passes the defender on the other side, like two streams of the same river passing a rock.
  • The goal, a second later, is just a formality for Bergkamp and the flabbergasted goal keeper.

Throughout the entire event, Dennis never once looked at the defender, though he knew exactly where he was.

This example illustrates his fine ability to control the ball, his sublime first touch (other, otherwise excellent strikers, often need to 'control' the ball by bringing it to rest, giving defenders the chance to intercept), his ability to leave defenders standing and his preference to score (or to set up a goal) from outside the box.

Others on Bergkamp

In his analysis of the way in which Dutch football and Dutch culture blend, Brilliant Orange (ISBN 0747553106), writer David Winner analyzes the effect of Dennis Bergkamp's passes and how he can split a defence: "Before the pass the pitch is crowded and narrow; after the pass it is wide open."


Dennis Bergkamp is also well known for having a fear of flying, giving rise to the nickname the non-Flying Dutchman. As such, he is often unable to play in matches Arsenal play outside of England, However, for certain important matches, he will, if required, take a train or drive himself there. The tiring nature of such long journeys from London to Europe (and back) often means he misses domestic matches around European away games.

External links

Preceded by:
Gianfranco Zola
English Footballer of the Year
Succeeded by:
David Ginola
Preceded by:
Alan Shearer
PFA Players' Player of the Year
Succeeded by:
David Ginola

Template:End boxde:Dennis Bergkamp ja:デニス・ベルカンプ nl:Dennis Bergkamp no:Dennis Bergkamp zh:丹尼斯博格坎普


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