Quotes on: Dennis Bergkamp

“He was a world-class player, [ . . .] look at him technically, the skills he could do in very small areas. In England we know him very well, and of course in Holland, for the national team. He’s been very important for Dutch football because he stands for the football we want to play – you should be strong on the ball and score goals yourself, but also put someone else in the position to score goals, and sometimes show nice things on the pitch as well, and get past players in certain ways. I remember the goal against Newcastle, where he turns a player and scores a brilliant goal. That’s what he’s shown in Holland, and in England of course.”
– Jaap Stam

“One of the best players ever produced by the Netherlands. Had a marvellous technique and goalscoring ability, but above all great situational awareness; he always knew where his team-mates were and how to bring them into the game. Wasn’t always a prolific goalscorer, but some of the goals he scored were incomparable. He was very clever at finding space and making himself available. He never stood still when he received the ball and that made it very difficult playing against him.”
— Jaap Stam

“A genius and a pleasure to play with because he would always find space in which to receive the ball.”
— Emmanuel Petit

“[ . . . ] our technical leader, the one who would bring the small magic that would help us win something.”
Patrick Vieira

“To make his kind of passes you have to like things to be perfect.”
– Patrick Vieira

“The Iceman was a tremendous player. He was strong and quick and had a bit of a nasty streak about him. However, he was a gentleman. We all used to go for it in training and he was great. You need players like that. He could link people into play and could score goals. He was a top professional and you learn from those guys.”
– Sol Campbell

“Played football like it was all a dream – you couldn’t even imagine some of the things that he was capable of doing with a football.”
Peter Schmeichel

“Killed the ‘boring, boring Arsenal’ tag. If Bergkamp had played in the Cruyff team of 1974, Holland would have won the World Cup. The complete player: wonderful vision, can use either foot, so skilful and can score goals.”
– Bob Wilson

“An enormously talented footballer: intelligent, always drifting between the lines and with fantastic distribution. He really opens up doors.”
– Tony Adams

“An amazing player with sublime skill; comfortably the best I’ve played with. Not only did he score brilliant goals, but when he played, those around him scored more.”
– Ian Wright

“[ . . . ] he saw the picture so quickly, adjusted to any sort of strikers in front, whether Wright, Henry or Anelka, or others. Such a clever player, who scored brilliant goals, and had a steel about him too.”
– Alan Smith

“When you see how he lives it’s a great example… he is fantastic on the pitch and off the pitch.”
– Robin van Persie
(quote from www.arsenal.com)

“He has 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 so 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.”
– Arsene Wenger
(quote from www.arsenal.com)

“Because of longevity and because I saw him every day in training for more than seven years, Dennis Bergkamp. Why? Because he was always doing what the game was asking him to do. What I mean by that is he can showboat sometimes and score a goal that you guys would have gone ‘oh wow!’, but we knew it could have been something better for the team. [ . . . ] I admired why Dennis was always trying to respect the game. He could score but he could pass, past, [pick the] right moment. He was always trying to respect the game when he could do other stuff and that’s why I respected him a lot for that. But also the way he trained. The way he used to train was just not normal. The guy didn’t want to lose the ball, if he loses the ball he would foul you, get in your face, he wants to be first in the run, first to touch the mannequin in training.”
Thierry Henry
(when asked who the best player he ever played with was)

“I have always said Dennis Bergkamp will remain the best partner I have ever had. He is a dream for a striker. [ . . . ] The most important thing is the team. That is why I admire Dennis, and that is what he has been doing for a long time. I have always said he is the best guy that I have played with. Sometimes you have players who do not have to talk, you just have to watch them – and that is the case with Dennis. If you are in the game, on the bench or watching on TV, you want to learn then Dennis Bergkamp, with the way he can kill a team with one pass, is just amazing. He will sometimes do things out of nowhere.” – Thierry Henry
(quote from http://www.arsenal.com)

Soccer - FA Barclaycard Premiership - Newcastle United v Arsenal

“The Bergkamp of the late 1990s, his mature phase, was a “footballer of moments”. He would sometimes play a terrible match but do one thing that no footballer had ever done before. There was his instant flick with back to the goal and then full-circle spin around Nikos Dabizas, of Newcastle United; the loblet that placed Fredrik Ljungberg alone in front of Juventus’s goal; or his outside-of-the-foot strike against Argentina. Bergkamp was a master of space. He found openings that even spectators high up hadn’t spotted. It was as if he could see another dimension. Sometimes you had to rewind a move several times to work out what he had done.”
– Simon Kuper 

“Does Bergkamp have three feet?”
– Nick Hornby
(novelist and Arsenal fan)

“I honestly didn’t think a professional player could be that good.”
– Paul Merson

“Dennis Bergkamp was the best I played with. He made the people around him look good. He sees everything.”
– Paul Merson

“He’s the best I’ve ever played with by a long, long way. I can’t talk high enough of the bloke – he was absolutely phenomenal. I think he’s the greatest Arsenal player of all time. You talk to Thierry or Ian Wright and they can’t speak highly enough of the man.”
– Paul Merson

“We use the phrase in football ‘he’s got eyes in the back of his head’ – Bergkamp did have eyes in the back of his head. It was scary. [ . . . ] Dennis saw pictures quicker than anybody.”
– Paul Merson

“If anyone meant it, he did, he was that good.”
– Paul Merson on the goal vs Newcastle

“You just didn’t know what he was going to do next. I still don’t know whether he meant that goal against Newcastle or not. [ . . . ] When Arsenal signed him, it gave us a great lift.”
– David Seaman

“Dennis is a player who is admired by all the other players and was the first push of Arsenal into the modern, international era. [ . . . ] He brought creativity to this group of very strong players and it was a good marriage.”
– Arsene Wenger

“I was very lucky to find Dennis Bergkamp already in the squad when I arrived at Arsenal. You do not find a player like that everywhere you go, It was a blessing, a gift when I arrived.

“I knew of his class before I arrived of course. I remember playing against Inter as manager of Monaco when he was there, and I saw him as a young player at Ajax too, but you only really find out about a player when you work with him every day.

“A lot has been said about Dennis over the years; about his class, about his intelligence – his remarkable intelligence – about his vision, basically you can never say enough about the player. But the one thing which is a real example for youngsters is that Dennis Bergkamp, and I have worked with him for ten years don’t forget, until the last minute of his final training session, he did not lose his concentration or dedication for one minute. For me that is more remarkable than anything else. Because the talent he got when he was born, and then developed it, but what I respect more was that every single day of his career, for 20 years, until the last minute, he never made a pass in training without thinking about it, or without putting every part of his brain into it. That’s something that I consider virtually impossible to do, such is the level of dedication needed, but he did it, and that’s what made him not only a super-talented player, but a remarkable player who always had 100 per cent concentration throughout every session. That is a dream for a manager because I have seen many talented players, and some average players, give only 50 per cent concentration in training.

“In England you have a phrase that Dennis was always a pleasure to watch. Well let me tell you that behind that pleasure for the viewer, was a great deal of dedication and hard-work from Dennis.

“When you have a player like that as a coach, you do not tell him how to play football, you just try to fit him into the team in the way which allows him to express his talent to the maximum potential. He was always a striker, yet not a striker – a midfielder yet not a midfielder, so I always felt that the second striker position was his natural position. He was at ease there, he knew when to drop off, and he could just smell out the game. He had instinct and super intelligence. As well as his talent, he had super, super intelligence.

“His role in the team changed over the years. When I first arrived he was a goalscorer, and obsessed by scoring like may forwards are, but slowly he became more obsessed by the team and by how much he can provide. He understood that he could score less, but help the team score more. But he still loved to score goals, and great goals too. I think my favourite would probably be the one he scored against Leicester at Filbert Street, his third in a fantastic hat-trick. It was something exceptional.
[ . . . ]
“You will see today the respect that he had within the game, because I think that every player who played with him would love to be involved today. The players that will be playing in this game think a lot of Dennis, they respect him so much as a player and he was a joy to play with.”
– Arsene Wenger
(in the match programme notes for Bergkamp’s testimonial at the Emirates Stadium)
(retrieved from “www.arsenal.com”)

“You will not see many goals like that, it was an unbelievable goal. You are blessed to see that when you come to a stadium. It was not only a magnificent goal but a very important one – I enjoyed it a lot.”
– Arsene Wenger on the goal vs Newcastle

“His touch, his skill and his awareness were a level above other players, something you can’t teach. I was in goal when he scored an incredible goal against Newcastle, by knocking it round Nikos Dabizas. We just stood there looking at each other, amazed. He’s probably the only player who could have pulled it off.”
— Shay Given

“One runs out of superlatives in describing him as a player: he has great vision, awareness, touch, finish, not to mention selflessness, which for a striker almost sounds like a contradiction in terms. But there has always been so much more to Bergkamp than just goalscoring ability and he has plenty of that as his ratio of one goal in less than two and a half games testifies.”
– Gary Lineker

“a world- class player with wonderful ability, technically excellent and an individual capable of applying his considerable ability to the benefit of the team.”
– Bruce Rioch

“Shortly after Dennis Bergkamp signed, Arsenal’s training ground also hummed with a lot more spontaneous applause. It could have been a shot that whizzed into the top corner, a sublime touch that made a defender look silly, or a perceptive pass no one else saw coming. The claps kept on coming for the Dutch master.

“Ahhhhhh love that!” “Stop it, that’s brilliant Dennis!” “Too good Den!”

I’m not exaggerating. First team training sessions were often a daily convention of the Bergkamp Appreciation Society.”
[ . . . ]
“There were also trophy winners and full internationals everywhere you looked in the Gunners dressing room. Standards were already very high when he arrived. It was more that this was the first time a truly world-class footballer at his peak, had been part of the squad. He was on another level. Most of us were blown away.”

“I know I’d never seen a footballer as technically brilliant in person. I’d quietly study Dennis’s attitude, the speed of his feet, his polished first touch, how he demanded that you fizz a firm pass into him, the way he volleyed a ball, and the craftsmanship of his finishing.”
[ . . . ]
“As a winger I’ve got to say he was a dream to play with. Wherever I wanted the ball, that’s where I’d get it. There was never a hospital pass. His vision and distribution was never anything but precise and thoughtful. He made all of us look better players.”

“[ . . . ] whenever I’m asked who the best I ever played with was, there’s never ever a moment’s hesitation. It has to be Dennis Bergkamp. He was in a class of his own.”
– Adrian Clarke
(made 7 first-team appearances for Arsenal between 1993 and 1997)
— excerpts from an article on FourFourTwo magazine; accessible here.

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