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Dennis Nicolaas Maria Bergkamp (born 10 May 1969 in Amsterdammarker) is a retired Dutchmarker professional footballer. He was named after Manchester United footballer Denis Law (although the traditional spelling had to be observed for the legal satisfaction of the registrar). At club level he played for Ajax, Internazionale, Arsenal and also represented the Netherlands at international level. Bergkamp played most of his best games as a support striker, where his tactical awareness and deft passes made him a great exponent of the game from the 'hole'.

He was selected by Pelé as one of the FIFA 125 greatest living players and is widely regarded as one of the English Premier League's all-time greatest players. In 2007 he was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame, the first and thus far only Dutch player ever to receive the honour. He has also finished third in the FIFA World Player of the Year award twice.

Club career

AFC Ajax

Bergkamp was brought up through Ajax's famous youth system, joining the club at age 12. He was given his professional debut by coach Johan Cruyff on 14 December 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 scorer in the Eredivisie, 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.

Inter Milan

In the summer of 1993, Bergkamp was signed by Inter Milan for £12 million alongside his Ajax team-mate Wim Jonk. This made him the second most expensive player in the world at the time, second only to Gianluigi Lentini.

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 Italian 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 teammates. He was so unpopular at the club, that the Italian sports media, renamed their "Donkyy of the Week" award (Handed to the worst player that week) to the "Bergkamp of the Week" award


Bergkamp at Arsenal
After two unhappy seasons at Inter, Bergkamp was signed by Arsenal boss Bruce Rioch in June 1995 for £7.5m. Bergkamp made his debut against Middlesbrough on 19 August 1995 but had to adapt to the English style of play. It took him seven games before he finally managed to score his first goal, against Southampton. Slowly but surely, Bergkamp's stature grew, playing as a forward behind the main striker, Ian Wright. They soon formed a strong partnership which was one of the finest in the Premier League. Bergkamp has been regarded by many football pundits such as Alan Hansen as being the greatest foreign player to grace the English game.

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 Heyselmarker ban in 1990, but also because he was a major contributor to the club's return to success after a brief period of mediocrity in the mid-1990s.

Bergkamp hit his best form for Arsenal after the arrival of Arsène Wenger in September 1996. Arsenal won an FA Premier League and FA Cup double in the 1997-98 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 the only player to have come first, second and third in Match of the Day's Goal of the Month competition, for a hat trick against Leicester City. He scored 16 times that season, as well as being involved in setting up many more. At the end of that same season, he helped the Netherlands to a fourth-place finish at the 1998 World Cup. In that competition, he scored one of the greatest goals of all time in a quarter final win against Argentina, after receiving a 60 yard pass from Frank de Boer. During the 2001/02 campaign, Dennis once again scored a truly memorable goal that would go on to win Premier League Goal of the Season. On the 3rd of March 2002, Arsenal took on Newcastle in a league encounter. With just 10 minutes on the clock, Robert Pires sent in a low pass from the left flank to Bergkamp standing on the edge of the opponent area with his back to goal. With an ingenious flick of the ball with the inside of his left foot, he dumbfounded defender Nikos Dabizas who was marking him tightly. He swiveled the other way, brushing the defender aside, and coolly slotting the ball past an onrushing Shay Given.

While his subsequent form did not match 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 Premier League for a third time in 2004. The club's domestic success was not matched in European competition, the closest to winners' medals coming when they lost the 2000 UEFA Cup final to Galatasaray on penalties and the 2006 Champions League final loss to Barcelona; Bergkamp traveled overland to Paris for his competitive farewell, only to be an unused substitute.

In 2005, due to Arsenal's reluctance in offering him a new deal, there was speculation that Bergkamp would leave the club, and possibly football altogether. Bergkamp had said that 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 Cardiffmarker though, it was revealed he would sign a one-year contract extension, which was custom by the manager Arsène Wenger for players over 30 years of age, keeping him at the London club for their final season at the Arsenal Stadiummarker at Highbury.
On 16 April 2006, the home match against West Bromwich Albion, the Arsenal supporters dedicated the original "Supporter's Day" match theme (one of the designated theme days Arsenal prepared to celebrate their last year at Highbury before moving to the Emirates Stadium) to "Dennis Bergkamp Day", to commemorate Bergkamp's time at Arsenal. Bergkamp came on as a second half substitute, setting up the winning Robert Pirès goal, after Nigel Quashie had equalized just after he came on. He scored a curler himself at the 89th minute, as Arsenal ran out 3-1 winners. That goal proved to be the last goal Bergkamp scored in Arsenal colours and in competitive football.

Bergkamp officially retired from competitive football after the 2006 Champions League final game against FC Barcelona on 17 May 2006. The last game he played in Arsenal colours was also the last game at Highbury, against Wigan Athletic on 7 May 2006—the final Premier League game of that season. Bergkamp scored 120 goals for Arsenal in 424 appearances, and set up a further 166 goals in his Arsenal career. This makes him one of the top assist makers in Premier League history.

On 14 July 2008 he placed 2nd in Gunners Greatest 50 Players, behind former strike partner Thierry Henry, in an online poll on

International career

Bergkamp made his international debut for the Netherlands against Italy on 26 September 1990. His first major tournament was Euro 92, where the Dutch were defending champions. Bergkamp impressed, but the Dutch lost on penalties in the semi-finals to the team that would go on to win the tournament, Denmark, despite Bergkamp scoring both in regular time and in the penalty shoot-out.

Bergkamp also impressed in the 1994 FIFA World Cup, playing in all of his side's matches, scoring a goal against Brazil, a match the Dutch ultimately lost 3-2. The Netherlands 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.

Bergkamp scored three times in the 1998 FIFA World Cup, including a memorable winning goal in the final minute of the quarter-final against Argentina. Bergkamp took a leaping first touch to instantly control a long 60-yard aerial pass from Frank de Boer, brought the ball down through Argentine defender Roberto Ayala's legs, and finally finished by firing a volley with the outside of his right foot past the keeper at a tight angle from the right. With three intelligent right-footed touches in a matter of seconds, he was able to turn the game and send his national squad into the semifinal round.

The Netherlands joint-hosted Euro 2000 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 during the tournament but still played an important role. After the defeat, Bergkamp announced his retirement from international football, because the next major tournament, the 2002 FIFA World Cup, would be played in Japan and South Korea and Bergkamp's aviophobia (see below) would prevent him from travelling there. He did not play the qualification matches, since he thought that it would be unfair to do so.

He ended his international career first on the all-time list of goal scorers for the Dutch national team, with 37 goals in 79 games, although his record has since been passed by Patrick Kluivert.

Post-football career

Bergkamp had the honour of being the focus of the first match at Arsenal's new ground, the Emirates Stadiummarker. On 22 July 2006, a testimonial was played in his honour at the new stadium, with Arsenal playing his old club Ajax. Bergkamp kicked off the match with his father, Wim, and son, Mitchel. All four children acted as the match's mascots. The first half was played by members of Arsenal and Ajax's current squads, while the second was played by famous ex-players from both sides; for example Ian Wright, Patrick Vieira, Marc Overmars, Emmanuel Petit and David Seaman for Arsenal, and Marco van Basten, Danny Blind, Johan Cruijff, Frank and Ronald de Boer for Ajax. Arsenal won the match 2–1 with goals from Thierry Henry and Nwankwo Kanu; Klaas-Jan Huntelaar had earlier opened the scoring for Ajax, making him the first goalscorer at the Emirates Stadium.

Upon retiring from playing Bergkamp insisted he would not move into coaching. He turned down an offer to scout for Arsenal and instead concentrated on travelling and spending time with his family. However, in May 2008 he began a fast-track coaching diploma for former Dutch international footballers. Because of his Aviophobia, he will study under Arsène Wenger in London.

It has been confirmed by Marco van Basten that Bergkamp has undertaken a trainee role at Ajax which will help him establish himself in a future coaching capacity.

He has reiterated that he would not turn down an opportunity for a coaching role at Arsenal, stating “I wouldn’t rule out [working at Arsenal in some capacity], I really love this club and the country and I love working here".

Others on Bergkamp

In Brilliant Orange (ISBN 0-7475-5310-6), David Winner's analysis of the way in which Dutch football and Dutch culture blend, the sculptor Jeroen Henneman analyzes the effect of Dennis Bergkamp's passes and how he can split a defence:
"It's a miracle. One moment the pitch is crowded and narrow. Suddenly it is huge and wide."

Bergkamp's close control and skill in passing the ball has put him in very high regard by Arsenal's fans, who have given him nicknames such as "Dennis the Menace", "the Dutch Master", and "Bergy".

Arsène Wenger also said about him after Arsenal's 3-1 win over West Bromwich Albion (16 April 2006) that Bergkamp had:
"Intelligence and class. Class is of course, most of the time linked to what you can do with the ball, but the intelligence makes you use the technique in an efficient way. It's like somebody who has a big vocabulary but he doesn't say intelligent words, and somebody who has a big vocabulary but he can talk intelligently, and that's what Dennis is all about. What he does, there's always a head and always a brain. And his technique allows him to do what he sees, and what he decides to do."

Bergkamp's former strike partner Thierry Henry praised the Dutchman after his last game for the club:

"Dennis is the best player I have ever played with as a partner. It is a dream for a striker to have him in the team with you."

Arsenal Legend Ian Wright said of Bergkamp:

"He's the messiah. We told him to get us into Europe when he joined and that's exactly what he did."

In April 2006, Simon Kuper wrote in the Financial Times:

"One night last year some legends of Dutch football gathered for dinner in an Amsterdam house. Around midnight conversation turned to an old question: who was the best Dutch footballer ever? Dutchmen have been voted European Footballer of the Year seven times, more than any other nationality except Germans. Yet Jan Mulder, a great centre-forward turned writer, chose a player who had never even threatened to win the award nor, at the time, a Champions League: 'Bergkamp. He had the finest technique', said Mulder. Guus Hiddink, the great Dutch manager, nodded, and so the matter was settled."

"Dennis Bergkamp" is the title of the second single by UK band Guildean gang. The song's lyrics do not relate to the footballer, the title merely being a tribute to him.


Dennis Bergkamp is well known for having a disabling fear of flying, which developed after the Dutch squad were involved in an incident concerning their aircraft during the 1994 FIFA World Cup in the United States. The Dutch squad travelled together with a group of journalists, one of whom made remarks about the long waiting time, wondering if there was a bomb on the plane. This provoked a panic amongst passengers and in particular Bergkamp. This incident reminded Bergkamp of a plane crashmarker which killed many Surinamese-Dutch players when they flew to Suriname. Ever since, Bergkamp has had a dislike of flying. This gave rise to the nickname the non-Flying Dutchman, a variation on The Flying Dutchman. He was thus often unable to play for Arsenal outside of England. He would, if required, take a train or drive there himself. The tiring nature of such long journeys to Europe forced him to miss domestic matches around European away games.

Personal life

Bergkamp is married to Henrita Ruizendaal, with whom he has had 2 daughters Estelle Deborah & Yasmin and 1 son Mitchel.

Bergkamp is also best friends with Marc Overmars, with whom he played at Arsenal. Overmars was occasionally criticized during his years at Arsenal for "his seeming unwillingness to share the ball with anyone other than compatriot Dennis Bergkamp."

Coaching career

In July, he moved back to AFC Ajax and works as assistant coach, on 26 October 2008, he signed a contract with the KNVB as team manager for the newly formed Netherlands B team on the side with Johan Neeskens.



Internazionale Milano


Winner Runner-Up





  1. Dennis Bergkamp - The Iceman Website || Stats
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External links

1986-87 Ajax Eredivisie 14 2 0 0 - 14 2
1987-88 25 5 0 0 - 25 5
1988-89 30 13 0 0 - 30 13
1989-90 25 8 0 0 - 25 8
1990-91 33 25 6 3 - 39 28
1991-92 30 24 11 6 - 41 30
1992-93 28 26 6 4 - 34 30

1993-94 Internazionale Serie A 31 8 13 9 - 44 17
1994-95 21 3 3 1 - 24 4

1995-96 Arsenal Premier League 33 11 10 5 - 43 16
1996-97 29 12 6 2 1 0 35 14
1997-98 28 16 9 5 1 1 37 22
1998-99 29 12 4 3 3 1 36 16
1999-00 28 6 0 0 11 4 41 10
2000-01 25 3 5 1 5 1 30 5
2001-02 33 9 6 3 6 2 39 14
2002-03 29 4 4 2 7 1 36 7
2003-04 28 4 3 1 6 0 34 5
2004-05 30 8 0 0 4 0 33 8
2005-06 24 2 0 0 4 1 28 3

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