Dennis Bergkamp

Dennis Bergkamp
Dennis Bergkamp
Dennis Bergkamp cropped.JPG
Personal information
Full name Dennis Nicolaas Bergkamp[1]
Date of birth 10 May 1969 (1969-05-10) (age 42)
Place of birth Amsterdam, Netherlands
Height 1.84 m (6 ft 0 in)
Playing position Second striker
Youth career
1981–1986 Ajax
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1986–1993 Ajax 185 (103)
1993–1995 Inter Milan 52 (11)
1995–2006 Arsenal 316 (87)
Total 648 (234)
National team
1990–2000 Netherlands 79 (37)
Teams managed
2011– Ajax (assistant)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).

Dennis Nicolaas Bergkamp (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈdɛnɪs ˈbɛrχkɑmp] ( listen); born 10 May 1969), is a former Dutch professional footballer who is currently the assistant manager to Frank de Boer at Ajax. At club level he played for Ajax, Internazionale, and Arsenal, and also represented the Netherlands at international level. Bergkamp played most of his best games as a support striker at Arsenal, where his tactical awareness and deft passes made him a great exponent of the game from the 'hole'. He was selected by Pele as one of the FIFA 100 greatest living players and is widely regarded as one of the Premier League's greatest players. In 2007 he was inducted into the FIFA 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 finishing behind Zidane & Ronaldo each time.


Club career

AFC Ajax

Born in Amsterdam, 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. Dennis Bergkamp had a famous nickname with his teammates they called him Dennis "the van man" Bergkamp.

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 Dutch Footballer 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 was signed by Internazionale for £12m 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.[2]

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 "donkey of the week" award (handed to the worst player that week) to the "Bergkamp of the Week" award.[citation needed]


Bergkamp at Arsenal

After two unhappy seasons at Inter, Bergkamp was signed by Arsenal boss Bruce Rioch in June 1995 for £7.5 million. Bergkamp made his debut against Middlesbrough on 20 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 Heysel 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 2 goals from his hat trick against Leicester City and a goal against Southampton (Not as widely credited for all 3 goals of his hat trick against Leicester City[3]). 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, Bergkamp once again scored a truly memorable goal that would go on to win Premier League Goal of the Season. On 3 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 Cardiff 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 Stadium at Highbury.

The Emirates Stadium filling up on the day of Bergkamp's testimonial.

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.[4]

On 14 July 2008 he placed 2nd in Gunners Greatest 50 Players, just behind former strike partner Thierry Henry, in an online poll on[5]

International career

Bergkamp warming up before a UEFA Euro 1996 match against Scotland at Villa Park, Birmingham.

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.[6]

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. However, the Netherlands failed to qualify for the tournament in any case.

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 this record was later surpassed 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 Stadium. 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; such as 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.[7]

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 studied under Arsène Wenger in London.[8]

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.[9]

He has reiterated that he would not turn down an opportunity for a coaching role at Arsenal, stating “I wouldn’t rule out coaching Arsenal, "it would be the aim of my coaching career, I really love this club and the country and I love working here".

On August 3, 2011, he played in the Dream Team made by Edwin Van der Sar during the goalkeeper's final match against Ajax.

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 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."[10]

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."[11]

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."[11]

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."[12]

Personal life

Bergkamp is married to Henrita Ruizendaal, with whom he has had three daughters Estelle Deborah, Yasmin Naomi and Saffron Rita, and a son Mitchel Dennis.[citation needed]

He is also the uncle of Roland Bergkamp, who currently plays for Brighton & Hove Albion F.C.[13]. During his time with Arsenal he studied mechanical engineering at The University of Bath. 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."[14]


Bergkamp has the nickname Non-Flying Dutchman [15] due to his fear of flying. This stemmed from an incident with the Dutch national side at the 1994 World Cup where the engine of the plane cut out during flight,[16] which prompted a journalist to joke about having a bomb in his bag [17]. Following this incident Bergkamp decided he'd never fly again suggesting that the anxiety over the flights would significantly affect his performances. This severely limited his ability to play in away matches in European competition and to travel with the Dutch national side. In some cases he would travel overland by car or train,[16][18] but the logistics of some matches were such that he would not travel at all. In one situation, Arsene Wenger told him not to travel, even though it was logistically possible, because of the exertions involved.[18]

Coaching career

In 2008 Bergkamp completed the Coach Betaald Voetbal course by the KNVB, a mandatory licensing requirement for professional coaching positions in The Netherlands. He completed his traineeship under the wing of Marco van Basten at AFC Ajax. On 26 October 2008, Bergkamp was appointed assistant to Johan Neeskens for the newly formed Netherlands B team.

For the 2008/2009 season, Bergkamp returned to Ajax in a formal coaching position with responsibility for the D2 (U12) youth team. Following Frank De Boer's promotion to AFC Ajax head coach in December 2010, Bergkamp was appointed assistant coach to Fred Grim, with responsibility for Ajax' flagship A1 (U19) youth team. In the 2011/2012 pre-season, Bergkamp was appointed assistant coach and strikers-trainer to Frank de Boer's first squad.





Club statistics

Club performance League Cup League Cup Continental Total
Season Club League Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Netherlands League KNVB Cup League Cup Europe Total
1986/87 Ajax Eredivisie 14 2 5 0 - 4 0 23 2
1987/88 25 5 1 0 - 6 1 32 6
1988/89 30 13 3 3 - 1 0 34 16
1989/90 25 8 2 1 - 1 0 28 9
1990/91 33 25 3 1 - - 42 29
1991/92 30 24 3 0 - 11 6 44 30
1992/93 28 26 4 4 - 8 3 40 33
Italy League Coppa Italia League Cup Europe Total
1993/94 Internazionale Milano Serie A 31 8 13 9 - 11 8 55 25
1994/95 21 3 3 1 - 2 1 26 5
England League FA Cup League Cup Europe Total
1995/96 Arsenal Premier League 33 11 - 33 11
1996/97 29 12 1 0 30 12
1997/98 28 16 1 1 29 17
1998/99 29 12 3 1 32 13
1999/00 28 6 11 4 39 10
2000/01 25 3 5 1 30 4
2001/02 33 9 4 3 1 0 6 2 44 14
2002/03 29 4 2 2 0 0 7 1 38 7
2003/04 24 4 3 1 0 0 6 0 37 5
2004/05 30 8 4 0 0 0 4 0 38 8
2005/06 24 2 1 0 1 0 4 1 30 3
Country Netherlands 185 103 21 9 - 31 10 237 122
Italy 52 11 16 10 - 13 9 81 30
England 316 87 14 6 2 0 48 11 380 104
Total 553 201 51 25 2 0 92 30 698 256

National team statistics


Netherlands national team
Year Apps Goals
1990 4 3
1991 5 2
1992 11 7
1993 6 4
1994 11 6
1995 5 1
1996 10 6
1997 5 4
1998 9 3
1999 5 1
2000 8 0
Total 79 37


  1. ^ Hugman, Barry J., ed (2005). The PFA Premier & Football League Players' Records 1946–2005. Queen Anne Press. p. 57. ISBN 1852916656. 
  2. ^ Dennis Bergkamp – The Iceman Website || Stats
  3. ^ "Goal of the Month 1997". 
  4. ^ "Cometh the hour, cometh the Iceman". 
  5. ^ Gunners' Greatest Players 2. Dennis Bergkamp
  6. ^ "Netherlands – Argentina". Retrieved 2010-04-27. 
  7. ^ "Match Report: Bergkamp Testimonial". Archived from the original on 22 August 2006. Retrieved 27 July 2006. 
  8. ^ Jacob, Gary (10 April 2008). "Dennis Bergkamp ends two-year exile from game". (London). Retrieved 10 April 2008. 
  9. ^ "Bergkamp offered Ajax post".,19528,11906_3428268,00.html. Retrieved 16 April 2008. 
  10. ^ "'If Giggs is worth £20 million, Dennis is worth £100 million'".;20+million,+Dennis+is+worth+%26pound;100+million%27. 
  11. ^ a b "Dennis Bergkamp's career in football". BBC News. 22 July 2006. Retrieved 2 January 2010. 
  12. ^ Kuper, Simon. "No more walking in a ‘Burgcamp’ Wonderland". 
  13. ^ Bergkamp nephew Roland joins Brighton
  14. ^ "Where Are They Now? Marc Overmars". Retrieved 17 June 2007. 
  15. ^ FFC Hall of Fame – Arsenal’s Non-Flying Dutchman
  16. ^ a b "Bergkamp's fear revealed". BBC Sport (BBC). 25 September 2002. Retrieved 12 November 2011. 
  17. ^ Bergkamp admits to flying phobia,, October 5, 1996
  18. ^ a b Davies, Christopher (12 February 2001). "Wenger might quit Arsenal over EU". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 12 November 2011. 
  19. ^
  20. ^

External links

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