Dennis had played just 52 league games during his time in Italy before he joined us in 1995. He had been constantly attacked by the press in Italy where a column highlighting the worst mistake of the weekend’s games was named Bergkamp della settimana
He had started as a pro player under Johan Cruyff in 1986 and was a sub in the 1987 Cup Winners Cup final that Ajax won and went on to be Dutch player of the year twice. Then he went to Inter for £12m – the second-highest transfer in the world at the time.
What happened then should be a lesson to the under 10s who run many of the Arsenal blogs. The word went around that Dennis was no good after his scoring rate went down. The press and the fans united in tormenting him. His form declined – what a surprise.
Fortunately, Arsenal could see a bargain when it was sitting there, and two seasons on from the move to Inter, Dennis came to Highbury for £7.5m.
For seven games he didn’t score – but then he did against Southampton (I can still remember the way he took it, and then turned around in pure and absolute relief). He played next to Wright, and even people like Alan Hansen came to see him as a great player.
Then along came Arsène Wenger and the combination was perfect. He became PFA Player of the Year and in September 97 he became the first and (I think) the only player to have come first, second and third in a goal of the month competition on the BBC.
But if you want an Arsenal memory it is the goal of the season during 2001/02 campaign, against Newcastle….
Pires to Bergkamp on the edge of the penalty box, back to goal. Flick with the inside of the left, the ball goes one way round the defender and Dennis goes the other way, collects the ball and scores. Bergkamp of the Week, Month, Year, Century.
He played right up to the end of our time at Highbury, he had Dennis Bergkamp day, and his friendly match on 22 July 2006 was the opening game at the Ems. And in 2008 he was voted second greatest Arsenal player of all time, just behind Henry.
Henry Norris at the Arsenal: There is a full index to the series here.
Arsenal in the 1930s: The most comprehensive series on the decade ever
Arsenal in the 1970s: Every match and every intrigue reviewed in detail.
100 Years: 100 Years in the First Division
Arsenal today: Untold Arsenal