Dennis Bergkamp (born May 10, 1969 in Amsterdam) is a former
Dutch international football player.
His parents, who were football fanatics, named him after
Manchester United and Scotland striker Denis Law, though altered
the spelling of the name due to Dutch regulations.
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
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 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 score 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
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.
Bergkamp made his international debut for the Netherlands in
1990 against Italy. His first major tournament was Euro 92,
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 1994 World Cup, 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 1998 World Cup, 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 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 but still played an important role. After the
defeat, Bergkamp announced his retirement from international
As of January 2005, Dennis Bergkamp is second on the all-time
list of goal scorers for the Dutch national team, with 37 goals
in 79 games. (The all-time leader is Patrick Kluivert, with 40
goals in 79 games as of June 2004. #3, Faas Wilkes, scored 35
goals in just 28 games and #4, Abe Lenstra, 33 goals in 47 games).
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.