Saturday, July 23, 2011

Dennis Bergkamp

Dennis Nicolaas Bergkamp (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈdɛnɪs ˈbɛrχkɑmp]; 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. He studied and received a first class degree in Mechanical engineering from the University of Bath, choosing to study there during the summers of his time spent at Arsenal.

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 £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.

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 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 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 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.

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