|Birth Day:||May 10, 1969|
|Birth Place:||Amsterdam, Netherlands|
Former Dutch striker for Ajax, Internazionale and Arsenal from 1986 to 2006, who became assistant manager for Frank de Boer with Ajax in 2011.
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He began his youth career with Ajax in 1981.
Bergkamp was brought up through Ajax's youth system, joining the club at age 11. Manager Johan Cruyff gave him his professional debut on 14 December 1986 against Roda JC; the match ended in a 2–0 victory for Ajax. Bergkamp scored his first senior goal for the club against HFC Haarlem on 22 February 1987 in a match Ajax won 6–0. He went on to make 23 appearances in the 1986–87 season, including a European debut against Malmö FF in the 1986–87 European Cup Winners' Cup, earning him praise. Ajax won the competition, beating Lokomotive Leipzig 1–0 as Bergkamp made an appearance as a substitute.
Bergkamp made his international debut for the Netherlands national team against Italy on 26 September 1990 as a substitute for Frank de Boer. He scored his first goal for the team against Greece on 21 November 1990. Bergkamp was selected for Euro 1992, where his national team were the defending champions. Although Bergkamp impressed, scoring three goals in the tournament, the team lost on penalties to eventual champions Denmark.
Bergkamp has received several accolades during his playing career. He twice finished in third place for the 1993 and 1996 FIFA World Player of the Year award and was named in FIFA 100, a list compiled by footballer Pelé of the 125 greatest living footballers. In his club career, Bergkamp won two successive Dutch Footballer of the Year awards in 1991 and 1992 and was the Eredivisie top scorer for three consecutive seasons (1990–91 to 1992–93). He was named the FWA Footballer of the Year and PFA Players' Player of the Year in April and May 1998 and made the PFA Team of the Year for the 1997–98 season. Bergkamp also achieved a unique feat in being voted first, second and third on Match of the Day's Goal of the Month competition in August 1997. For his national team, Bergkamp was the top scorer at Euro 1992 and was selected in the FIFA World Cup All-Star Team for the 1998 World Cup.
Ajax won the 1992 UEFA Cup Final, beating Torino through the away goals ruling. They then defeated Heerenveen 6–2 in the final of the KNVB Cup on 20 May 1993. Bergkamp was the top scorer in the Eredivisie from 1991 to 1993, and was voted Dutch Footballer of the Year in 1992 and 1993. In total, he scored 122 goals in 239 matches for his hometown club.
Bergkamp attracted the attention of several European clubs as a result of his performances for Ajax. Johan Cruyff advised him not to join Real Madrid, one of the teams said to have been interested in him. But Bergkamp was insistent on playing in Italy. He considered Serie A "the biggest league at the time" and preferred a move to either Juventus or Inter Milan. On 16 February 1993, Bergkamp agreed a £7.1 million move to the latter club in a deal which included his Ajax teammate Wim Jonk. Upon signing, Bergkamp said Inter "met all my demands. The most important thing for me was the stadium, the people at the club and their style of play."
Bergkamp made his debut against Reggiana on 29 August 1993 at the San Siro in a 2–1 victory. He scored his first goal for the club against Cremonese in September 1993 but had a difficult time against the highly organised and resolute Italian defences, scoring a further seven goals in the league. This was partly due to manager Osvaldo Bagnoli's inability to find a stable forward partnership, preferring Bergkamp in a three with Rubén Sosa and Salvatore Schillaci. Inter's poor league form culminated in the sacking of Bagnoli in February 1994 and his replacement by Gianpiero Marini, a member of Italy's 1982 FIFA World Cup-winning squad. The club finished 13th in Serie A, one point away from relegation, but enjoyed success in the UEFA Cup, beating Austria Salzburg in the final over two legs. Bergkamp was the competition's joint top scorer with eight goals and scored a hat-trick against Rapid București in the first round.
In Bergkamp's second season at Inter, the club changed managers again, appointing Ottavio Bianchi. Bergkamp endured a disappointing campaign, troubled with stress injuries and fatigue from the 1994 World Cup. He managed to score 5 goals in 26 appearances. Off the field, Bergkamp's relationship with the Italian press and fans became uncomfortable. His shy persona and his propensity to go home after matches was interpreted as apathy. Because of his poor performance on the pitch, one Italian publication renamed their award given to the worst performance of the week, L'asino della settimana (Donkey of the Week) to Bergkamp della settimana. Inter ended the league season in sixth position and failed to retain the UEFA Cup, with the club eliminated in the second round. In February 1995, the club was purchased by Italian businessman and fan Massimo Moratti, who promised to invest heavily in the squad. Bergkamp's future in the first team was uncertain following the signing of Maurizio Ganz a month after the takeover.
As Moratti prepared to make wholesale changes at the club, Bergkamp left Inter and signed with Arsenal in June 1995 for a transfer fee estimated at £7.5 million. He became manager Bruce Rioch's first signing at Arsenal and broke the club's transfer fee record set at £2.5 million. Bergkamp's arrival at the club was significant not only because he was an established international footballer who looked to have his best years ahead of him, but also because he was a major contributor to Arsenal's return to success after much decline in the mid-1990s. On the opening day of the 1995–96 league season, Bergkamp made his full debut against Middlesbrough. He struggled to adapt to the English game and failed to score in the club's next six league matches, prompting ridicule by the national press. On 23 September 1995, Bergkamp scored his first and second goals for Arsenal against Southampton at Highbury. Bergkamp ended his first season with 33 appearances and 11 goals, helping Arsenal finish fifth and earn a place in the UEFA Cup by scoring the winner against Bolton Wanderers on the final day of the season.
During his time at Inter Milan, Bergkamp was switched to the position of a main striker, but failed to cooperate with his offensive partner Rubén Sosa, whom he later called "selfish". Furthermore, due to his introverted character, he was accused of lacking consistency and leadership skills by the Italian press, and struggled to replicate his previous form during his time with Inter. When Bergkamp joined Arsenal in 1995, he enjoyed a successful strike partnership with Wright, and in later seasons Anelka and Henry, playing in his preferred position as a creative second striker. The arrival of Overmars in the 1997–98 season enhanced Bergkamp's play, as he was getting more of the ball. Between August and October 1997, he scored seven goals in seven league matches. A similar rapport developed between him and Ljungberg during the 2001–02 season.
The appointment of Arsène Wenger as Arsenal manager in September 1996 marked a turning point in Bergkamp's career. Wenger, who had moderate success coaching in France and Japan, recognised Bergkamp's talent and wanted to use him as a fulcrum of the team's forward play. Both were advocates of a continental style of attacking football, and Wenger's decision to impose a strict fitness and health regimen pleased Bergkamp. Despite making fewer appearances in the 1996–97 season, Bergkamp was more influential in the first team, creating 13 assists. Against Tottenham Hotspur in November 1996, he set up an 88th-minute winner for captain Tony Adams to volley in using his left foot. He then scored in injury time, controlling a high ball with his left foot and evading his marker Stephen Carr in a tight area to set up his shot. Bergkamp received his first red card against Sunderland in January 1997 for a high tackle on midfielder Paul Bracewell in the 26th minute. Arsenal went on to lose the match 1–0, but a run of 8 wins in their final 16 matches gave the club a third-place finish, missing out on a spot in the UEFA Champions League via goal difference.
Bergkamp was instrumental the following season in helping Arsenal complete a domestic league and cup double. He became the club's top scorer with 22 goals and recorded a strike rate of 0.57. Arsenal's achievement was all the more astonishing given the team, written off by many in December 1997, had made ground on reigning Premier League champions Manchester United. Early in the season away to Leicester City at Filbert Street on 23 August 1997, Bergkamp scored his first hat-trick for the club. The third goal, which he regarded as his favourite for Arsenal, required just one touch to control the ball in the penalty box, another to flick it past his marker Matt Elliott before juggling it with his feet and shooting past goalkeeper Kasey Keller. After the match, Leicester manager Martin O'Neill was gracious enough to admit Bergkamp's was "the best hat-trick I've ever seen". In an FA Cup quarter-final replay against West Ham United on 17 March 1998, Bergkamp was sent off for elbowing midfielder Steve Lomas and missed three matches due to suspension. He played no further part in Arsenal's season after overstretching his hamstring against Derby County on 29 April 1998, missing the 1998 FA Cup Final. Bergkamp was consoled with the PFA Players' Player of the Year award, becoming only the third non-British player to be recognised by his fellow professionals as the outstanding performer in English football.
Against Wales in the 1998 FIFA World Cup qualification on 9 November 1996, he scored his first hat-trick for the national team. The Netherlands finished first in their group and qualified for the 1998 FIFA World Cup, held in France. Bergkamp scored three times in the competition, including a memorable winning goal in the final minute of the quarterfinal against Argentina. He took one touch to 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 keeper Carlos Roa at a tight angle from the right. The goal, cited by Bergkamp as his favourite in his career, was his 36th for the national team, overtaking Faas Wilkes as the record scorer. In the semi-finals, the Netherlands lost to Brazil on penalties after drawing 1–1 in normal time. Bergkamp made the All-Star team of the tournament, alongside Frank de Boer and Edgar Davids.
After an effective 1998 World Cup campaign with the national team, Bergkamp had another productive season in 1998–99. Although Arsenal failed to retain the Premier League after losing the title on the final day of the season to Manchester United, Bergkamp was the club's second-top scorer in all competitions, with 16 goals, and finished the season as the top assist provider in the Premier League, alongside Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, with 13 assists. Arsenal were also defeated in a FA Cup semi-final replay against Manchester United in April 1999. With the score 1–1 heading into injury time, Arsenal were awarded a penalty after midfielder Ray Parlour was brought down by Phil Neville inside the 18-yard box. Bergkamp took the penalty shot, but it was saved by goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel. In the second half of extra time, Ryan Giggs scored the winner, a goal regarded by many as the greatest in the competition's history. After this miss, Bergkamp did not take another penalty for the remainder of his career.
On 9 October 1999, Bergkamp scored his final goal for the Netherlands, against Brazil. As the Netherlands were co-hosts for Euro 2000, the team automatically qualified for the tournament and were considered favourites. In the semi-finals, the Netherlands lost 3–1 on penalties to Italy. Following the defeat, Bergkamp announced his retirement from international football, choosing to focus on his club career. His final goal tally of 37 goals in 79 appearances was overtaken by Patrick Kluivert in June 2003.
The 1999–2000 season proved to be a frustrating one for both Arsenal and Bergkamp. The club finished second in the league, 18 points behind Manchester United, and lost in the 2000 UEFA Cup Final to Turkish opponents Galatasaray on penalties. The departure of compatriot Marc Overmars and French midfielder Emmanuel Petit in the close season led to speculation over Bergkamp's future. He ultimately agreed terms on a contract extension in December 2000. Despite an array of new signings made in the 2000–01 season, Arsenal were runners-up in the league for a third year in succession. The emergence of Thierry Henry and Sylvain Wiltord as the main strikers saw Bergkamp's first-team opportunities limited as a result. He was used as a late substitute in Liverpool's win over Arsenal in the 2001 FA Cup Final.
The condition severely limited his ability to play in away matches in European competitions and to travel with the national team. In some cases, he would travel overland by car or train, but the logistics of some matches were such that he would not travel at all. In the build-up to Arsenal's Champions League match against Lyon in February 2001, Wenger spoke of his concerns for Bergkamp travelling by train and car, because of the exertions involved.
Success finally came in the 2001–02 season. Arsenal regained the league, beating Manchester United at Old Trafford in the penultimate game of the season to complete the club's second double under Wenger; Arsenal defeated Chelsea 2–0 to win the FA Cup four days prior. Bergkamp played in 33 league matches, setting up 15 goals, one of which was against Juventus in the second group stage of the Champions League. Holding off two markers, he twisted and turned before feeding the ball to Freddie Ljungberg in the penalty box to score. Bergkamp headed in the winner against Liverpool in a FA Cup fourth-round tie on 27 January 2002, but was shown a red card for a two-footed lunge on defender Jamie Carragher, who himself was sent off for throwing a coin into the crowd. He was subsequently banned for three matches (two league, one FA Cup round). Bergkamp appealed for his ban, but was unsuccessful. He made his return against Newcastle United on 3 March 2002. Early in the match, Arsenal midfielder Robert Pires played a low pass from the left flank to Bergkamp in the edge of the opponent area with his back to goal. Under pressure from his marker Nikos Dabizas, Bergkamp controlled the ball with one flick and went around the other side before placing the ball precisely into the bottom right-hand corner to score. Wenger described the goal as "unbelievable", adding "It was not only a magnificent goal but a very important one – I enjoyed it a lot". Bergkamp featured in nine out of the last ten league games, forming a productive partnership with Ljungberg.
Bergkamp reached a personal landmark during the 2002–03 season, scoring his 100th goal for Arsenal against Oxford United in a FA Cup third-round tie on 4 January 2003. In the league, Arsenal failed to retain the championship despite having led by eight points in March 2003. However, they did win the FA Cup for a second successive year, beating Southampton in the 2003 FA Cup Final. On 20 July 2003, Bergkamp signed a one-year extension at the club. The 2003–04 season ended on a high point for Bergkamp as Arsenal reclaimed the league title, becoming the first English team in more than a century to go through the entire domestic league season unbeaten. Against Leicester City in the final league match of the campaign with the score tied at 1–1, Bergkamp set up the winner with a pass to captain Patrick Vieira. Vieira rounded the goalkeeper and scored. The team, dubbed "The Invincibles" did not achieve similar dominance in Europe; Arsenal were beaten by Chelsea in the quarter-finals of the Champions League over two legs. Bergkamp committed himself to Arsenal at the end of the season, signing a further extension to his contract.
Bergkamp started in 29 league matches in the 2004–05 season, but Arsenal's title defence ended unsuccessfully. The team finished second, 12 points behind Chelsea. At home against Middlesbrough on 22 August 2004, Bergkamp acted as captain for the injured Vieira in a match where Arsenal came back from 1–3 down to win 5–3 and equal Nottingham Forest's record of 42 league matches undefeated. Against Sheffield United in the FA Cup on 19 February 2005, Bergkamp was shown a straight red card by referee Neale Barry for shoving defender Danny Cullip. His appeal of the decision was rejected by The Football Association (FA), meaning he missed the club's next three domestic games. In Arsenal's final home match of the season, against Everton, Bergkamp had a man of the match game, scoring once and assisting three of the goals in a 7–0 win. Bergkamp was moved by Arsenal supporters chanting "one more year", describing it as "quite special". "They obviously feel there is another year left in me, so that's great as it shows they're really behind me," he said. Following Arsenal's penalty shootout victory over Manchester United in the 2005 FA Cup Final, he signed a one-year contract extension.
Throughout his playing career, Bergkamp was accused of diving, and was referred to as a "cheat" and "dirty player" for retaliating against players who had previously challenged him, something his former manager Wenger denied. In an interview with The Times in 2004, he said that while he was at Inter, he realised the importance of being mentally tough in order to survive: "A lot of people there try to hurt you, not just physically but mentally as well, and coming from the easygoing culture in Holland, I had to adopt a tougher approach. There, it was a case of two strikers up against four or five hard defenders who would stop at nothing." Bergkamp says his aggression often stems from frustration.
The team finished fourth in the league in Bergkamp's final season at Arsenal. Bergkamp scored an injury-time winner against Thun on Matchday 1 of the Champions League, having come on as a substitute in the 72nd minute. After much campaigning from Arsenal supporters, the club designated one of its Highbury matchday themes, organised to commemorate the stadium's final season as home of Arsenal, to Dennis Bergkamp. "Bergkamp Day" took place on 15 April 2006 and saw Arsenal up against West Bromwich Albion. It celebrated the player's contribution to Arsenal; fans were given commemorative orange "DB10" T-shirts – the colour of his national team, his initials and his squad number. Bergkamp himself came on as a second-half substitute and set up the winning Robert Pires goal moments after Nigel Quashie had levelled the scoreline. Fittingly, Bergkamp's 89th-minute goal proved to be his last for Arsenal in competitive football. Bergkamp was an unused substitute in his final match for Arsenal against Barcelona in the Champions League final; Barcelona scored twice in the last 13 minutes to overturn Arsenal's early lead and win the competition.
Bergkamp was 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 as Arsenal played 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, including Ian Wright, Patrick Vieira, Marc Overmars, Emmanuel Petit and David Seaman for Arsenal; and Johan Cruyff, Marco van Basten, Danny Blind, Frank and Ronald de Boer for Ajax. Arsenal won the match 2–1 with goals from Henry and Nwankwo Kanu. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar had earlier opened the scoring for Ajax, making him the first goalscorer at the Emirates Stadium.
In April 2007, Bergkamp was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame by viewers of BBC's Football Focus. A year later, he was voted second by Arsenal fans behind Thierry Henry in a list of the 50 Gunners Greatest Players. In February 2014, Arsenal unveiled a statue of Bergkamp outside the Emirates Stadium to honour his time at the club. A statue of Dennis Bergkamp will be erected outside the KNVB headquarters in Zeist, as he has been chosen as the best Dutch international player from 1990 to 2015. The statue will join those of the eleven of the century, erected in 1999, alongside statues of Johan Cruyff, Ruud Gullit, Frank Rijkaard and Marco van Basten, amongst others.
Upon retiring, 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 April 2008, he began a fast-track coaching diploma for former Dutch international footballers and undertook a trainee role at Ajax. Having completed the Coach Betaald Voetbal course by the Royal Dutch Football Association (KNVB), Bergkamp was appointed assistant to Johan Neeskens for the newly formed Netherlands B team on 26 October 2008. For the 2008–09 season, Bergkamp returned to Ajax in a formal coaching position with responsibility for the D2 (U12) youth team. Following the promotion of Frank de Boer as manager of Ajax in December 2010, Bergkamp was appointed assistant manager to Fred Grim, dealing with Ajax' flagship A1 (U19) youth team.
In August 2011, Bergkamp was named De Boer's assistant at Ajax. However, after the arrival of Peter Bosz as the new head coach at Ajax, Bergkamp's role at Ajax slightly changed. He no longer sat on the bench during first-team matches, but instead focused more on field training and on helping youth players reach the first team. He and fellow assistant Hennie Spijkerman were sacked from their roles in December 2017.
Bergkamp's nickname is the "Non-Flying Dutchman" due to his fear of flying. Contemporary sources believed that this stemmed from incidents with the Netherlands national team at the 1994 World Cup where the engine of the plane cut out during a flight, and when a flight was delayed because a journalist made a joke about having a bomb in his bag. In his 2013 autobiography, Bergkamp stated that his phobia was in fact caused by his time at Inter Milan, in which they regularly travelled to away games in small aeroplanes. Bergkamp decided he would never fly again but did consider seeking psychiatric help:
Currently, Dennis Bergkamp is 53 years, 8 months and 24 days old. Dennis Bergkamp will celebrate 54th birthday on a Wednesday 10th of May 2023.
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