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Dennis Bergkamp Biography

The first thing to know in Dennis Bergkamp biography is that he is a former Dutch professional football player and current coach.

He was initially a wide midfielder but was later moved to a striker position, where he excelled and remained throughout his playing career.

He is widely considered one of the greatest players of his time and one of the most outstanding forwards in the history of the Premier League, as well as one of Ajax’s and Arsenal FC’s greatest players.

Born in Amsterdam, Bergkamp played amateur football in the lower leagues before being discovered by Ajax at the age of 11.

He made his professional debut with the team in 1986 and was selected for the Netherlands national team in 1987, following impressive performances.

He signed with Inter Milan in 1993, but his form there was unsatisfactory, and he moved to Arsenal in 1995, where he reinvigorated his career, contributing to the club’s success with numerous titles and achievements, including reaching the UEFA Champions League Final in 2006.

Although he had expressed a lack of interest in coaching, Bergkamp served as an assistant coach at Ajax from 2011 to 2017.

Bergkamp is renowned for his exceptional technique, and his skill has earned him numerous accolades and distinctions, including being named one of the FIFA 100 greatest living players by Pele, and being inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame and the Premier League Hall of Fame.

His goal against Newcastle United in 2002 was voted the best Premier League goal of all time in 2017.

Everything about Dennis Bergkamp

These general facts and Dennis Bergkamp stats in 2023 will give you a rough idea about him.

  • Dennis Bergkamp Real Name: Dennis Nicolaas Maria Bergkamp
  • Date of Birth: May 10, 1969 (53 years old)
  • Height: 1.83 m (6 ft 0 in)
  • Place of Birth: Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Position: Forward
  • All-time Club Appearances: 732
  • All-time Club Goals: 263
  • All-time Club Assists: 122

His Early Life

His Early Life
credit: goal.com

Dennis Bergkamp was born in Amsterdam to Wim and Tonnie Bergkamp, the youngest of their four sons.

He grew up in a working-class suburb, and his family had aspirations of achieving middle-class status, one of the facts about Dennis Bergkamp’s family.

Bergkamp’s father, an electrician who also played amateur football in lower leagues, named him after Scottish striker Denis Law.

However, to conform with Dutch naming customs, an extra “n” was added to his first name by his father after it was initially rejected by the registrar.

Bergkamp was raised as a Roman Catholic and attended church regularly during his childhood, although he later stated that he was not attracted to church visits.

Nevertheless, Dennis Bergkamp biography tells us that he remains a religious person.

During his childhood, Bergkamp’s footballing idols were Glenn Hoddle, whom he admired for his delicate and accurate touch, and Johan Cruyff, who coached him when he was twelve years old.

Dennis Bergkamp Club Career

Dennis Bergkamp Club Career
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Dennis Bergkamp began his football journey in Ajax’s youth system at the age of 11.

In 1986, Johan Cruyff gave him his professional debut against Roda JC, which Ajax won 2-0.

Bergkamp scored his first senior goal for the club against HFC Haarlem in February 1987.

He went on to make 23 appearances that season, including a European debut against Malmo FF in the 1986-87 European Cup Winners’ Cup, which earned him praise.

Bergkamp also made an appearance as a substitute in the final against Lokomotive Leipzig, which Ajax won 1-0.

Bergkamp established himself as a first-team player for Ajax in later seasons, and the club won the Eredivisie title in the 1989-90 season for the first time in five years.

He scored 29 goals in 36 matches the following season and became the joint-top scorer in the league with PSV striker Romario.

Ajax won the 1992 UEFA Cup Final, beating Torino through the away goals ruling, and also won the KNVB Cup in 1993 by defeating Heerenveen 6-2 in the final.

In Dennis Bergkamp biography, Bergkamp was the top scorer in the Eredivisie from 1991 to 1993 and was voted Dutch Footballer of the Year in 1992 and 1993.

He scored a total of 121 goals in 238 matches for Ajax.

Bergkamp’s performances for Ajax attracted the attention of several European clubs.

Johan Cruyff advised him not to join Real Madrid, but Bergkamp was insistent on playing in Italy, which he considered “the biggest league at the time.”

Joining Inter Milan

Joining Inter Milan
credit: goal.com

He preferred a move to either Juventus or Inter Milan. In February 1993, Bergkamp agreed to a £7.1 million move to Inter Milan, which also included his Ajax teammate Wim Jonk.

Upon signing, Bergkamp praised the club for meeting his demands and said that the stadium, the people at the club, and their style of play were the most important factors for him.

Bergkamp made his debut for Inter Milan against Reggiana on August 29, 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 organized and resolute Italian defenses, an interesting fact in Dennis Bergkamp biography.

He scored a further seven goals in the league partly due to manager Osvaldo Bagnoli’s inability to find a stable forward partnership, preferring Bergkamp in a three with Ruben Sosa and Salvatore Schillaci.

Inter Milan’s poor league form led to Bagnoli’s sacking 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 Bucuresti in the first round.

During Bergkamp’s second season at Inter Milan, he experienced a difficult time due to injuries and fatigue from the 1994 World Cup, scoring only five goals in 26 appearances.

Leaving for Arsenal

Leaving for Arsenal
credit: mirror.co.uk

Bergkamp’s reserved nature and tendency to go home after games led to a strained relationship with the Italian press and fans, who interpreted his behavior as apathy.

The situation was worsened when one publication named their award for the worst performance of the week after him, calling it Bergkamp della settimana.

Inter Milan finished sixth in the league and failed to retain the UEFA Cup, leading to uncertainty about Bergkamp’s future in the first team.

In June 1995, Bergkamp transferred to Arsenal for a fee of £7.5 million, breaking the club’s transfer fee record.

His arrival was significant for Arsenal as they were struggling at the time, and Bergkamp was seen as a major contributor to the club’s return to success.

However, he initially struggled to adapt to the English game, failing to score in his first six league matches and prompting ridicule from the national press.

Bergkamp finally scored his first two goals for Arsenal against Southampton in September 1995 and ended his first season with 11 goals and 33 appearances, helping Arsenal finish fifth and qualify for the UEFA Cup.

Dennis Bergkamp biography shows that the appointment of Arsene Wenger as Arsenal’s manager in September 1996 marked a turning point in Bergkamp’s career.

Wenger recognized Bergkamp’s talent and wanted to use him as a central figure in the team’s forward play.

Both shared a preference for a continental style of attacking football, and Wenger’s imposition of a strict fitness and health regimen pleased Bergkamp.

Though he made fewer appearances in the 1996-97 season, Bergkamp was more influential in the first team, creating 13 assists.

An Amazing Hat trick

An Amazing Hat trick
credit: telegraph.co.uk

He scored a memorable goal against Tottenham Hotspur in November 1996, setting up a winner for captain Tony Adams before scoring himself in injury time.

However, he also received his first red card in a match against Sunderland in January 1997 for a high tackle on midfielder Paul Bracewell.

Dennis Bergkamp played a crucial role in helping Arsenal win the domestic league and cup double in the 1997-1998 season.

He became Arsenal’s top scorer with 22 goals and achieved an impressive strike rate of 0.57.

This was a remarkable feat as many had written off the team in December 1997, but they made ground on reigning Premier League champions Manchester United.

In August 1997, Bergkamp scored his first hat-trick for Arsenal against Leicester City.

The third goal was his favorite as he controlled the ball in the penalty box with one touch, flicked it past his marker with another touch, juggled it with his feet, and shot past the goalkeeper.

In Dennis Bergkamp biography, we see that Leicester manager Martin O’Neill admitted that it was “the best hat trick he had ever seen.”

However, Bergkamp’s season was cut short due to a suspension and injury, causing him to miss the FA Cup Final.

In the 1998-1999 season, Bergkamp had another productive season.

Although Arsenal failed to retain the Premier League title, Bergkamp was the club’s second-top scorer with 16 goals and finished as the top assist provider in the Premier League with 13 assists.

Arsenal was also defeated in the FA Cup semi-final replay against Manchester United, with Bergkamp missing a crucial penalty that could have given Arsenal the victory.

After this miss, he never took another penalty for the remainder of his career.

Staying with Arsenal

Staying with Arsenal
credit: paininthearsenal.com

The 1999-2000 season proved to be frustrating for Arsenal and Bergkamp.

The club finished second in the league, 18 points behind Manchester United, and lost in the UEFA Cup Final to Galatasaray on penalties.

With the departure of key players, including Marc Overmars and Emmanuel Petit, Bergkamp’s future at the club was uncertain.

However, Dennis Bergkamp biography tells us that he ultimately agreed to a contract extension in December 2000.

Despite an array of new signings made in the 2000-2001 season, Arsenal was runners-up in the league for the third year in a row.

The emergence of Thierry Henry and Sylvain Wiltord as the main strikers limited Bergkamp’s first-team opportunities.

He was used as a late substitute in the 2001 FA Cup Final, where Arsenal lost to Liverpool.

Arsenal’s success finally came in the 2001-02 season.

The team won the league after beating Manchester United at Old Trafford in the penultimate game of the season.

They also won the FA Cup four days prior, beating Chelsea 2-0 to complete the club’s second double under Wenger.

During this season, Bergkamp played in 33 league matches and set up 15 goals, one of which was against Juventus in the second group stage of the Champions League.

He held off two markers and passed the ball to Freddie Ljungberg, who scored in the penalty box.

Bergkamp headed in the winner against Liverpool in a FA Cup fourth-round tie on January 27, 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 banned for three matches (two in the league and one FA Cup round).

Helping Arsenal to Huge Success

Dennis Bergkamp biography - Helping Arsenal to Huge Success
credit: premierleague.com

He made his return against Newcastle United on March 3, 2002.

In this match, he scored a remarkable goal which Wenger described as “unbelievable.”

Bergkamp controlled a low pass from Robert Pires with one flick, went around his marker Nikos Dabizas and scored by placing the ball precisely into the bottom right-hand corner.

In the 2002-03 season, Bergkamp scored his 100th goal for Arsenal against Oxford United in a FA Cup third-round tie on January 4, 2003.

However, Arsenal failed to retain the league championship despite having led by eight points in March 2003.

They did win the FA Cup for a second successive year, beating Southampton in the 2003 FA Cup Final.

Bergkamp signed a one-year extension at the club on July 20, 2003.

The 2003-04 season ended at 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.

In the final league match of the campaign against Leicester City, Bergkamp set up the winner with a pass to captain Patrick Vieira.

The team was dubbed “The Invincibles,” although they did not achieve similar dominance in Europe, being beaten by Chelsea in the quarter-finals of the Champions League over two legs.

In Dennis Bergkamp biography, Bergkamp committed himself to Arsenal at the end of the season, signing a further extension to his contract.

In the 2004-05 season, Dennis Bergkamp played in 29 league matches for Arsenal.

Despite his contribution, the team was unsuccessful in defending their title and finished second, 12 points behind Chelsea.

The Bergkamp Day

The Bergkamp Day
credit: planetfootball.com

In a match against Middlesbrough, Bergkamp acted as captain in place of the injured Vieira.

In this game, Arsenal managed to come back from 1-3 down to win 5-3, equaling Nottingham Forest’s record of 42 league matches undefeated.

However, in the FA Cup match against Sheffield United, Bergkamp received a straight red card for shoving defender Danny Cullip.

His appeal of the decision was rejected by the Football Association, which meant that he missed the club’s next three domestic games.

In Arsenal’s final home match of the season against Everton, Bergkamp had an outstanding game, scoring once and assisting three of the goals in a 7-0 win.

The Arsenal supporters chanted “one more year” to show their appreciation for his performance, which moved Bergkamp.

He signed a one-year contract extension following Arsenal’s penalty shootout victory over Manchester United in the 2005 FA Cup Final.

Bergkamp’s final season at Arsenal saw the team finish fourth in the league.

He scored a crucial injury-time winner against Thun on Matchday 1 of the Champions League, having come on as a substitute in the 72nd minute.

In Dennis Bergkamp biography, we read that supporters campaigned for the club to commemorate Bergkamp’s contribution to the team, resulting in the creation of “Bergkamp Day” on April 15, 2006.

During this event, fans were given commemorative orange “DB10” T-shirts, and Bergkamp himself came on as a second-half substitute and set up the winning goal.

His 89th-minute goal proved to be his last for Arsenal in competitive football.

One of Arsenal’s Bests

Dennis Bergkamp biography - One of Arsenal’s Bests
credit: twitter

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.

Despite not playing, Bergkamp’s contribution to Arsenal throughout his career was celebrated, and he remains one of the club’s most revered players.

Dennis Bergkamp was the center of attention at the opening of the new Emirates Stadium in 2006.

In Dennis Bergkamp biography, a testimonial match was played in his honor between Arsenal and his former club, Ajax.

The game was divided into two halves, with the current squads of both teams playing the first half and ex-players taking over in the second half.

The match ended with Arsenal winning 2-1, with goals from Thierry Henry and Nwankwo Kanu, and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar scoring for Ajax.

His International Career

His International Career
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Bergkamp made his international debut for the Netherlands national team in 1990 in a match against Italy.

He scored his first goal for the team against Greece later that year.

Bergkamp played a significant role in Euro 1992, scoring three goals in the tournament, but the Netherlands lost to Denmark in the semi-finals.

In the 1994 FIFA World Cup, he scored five goals in the qualification and scored against Morocco and the Republic of Ireland in the finals.

He also scored the first goal for the Netherlands against Brazil, but they lost 3-2 in the quarter-finals.

In Euro 1996, Bergkamp scored against Switzerland and provided an assist to Patrick Kluivert in the match against England, but the Dutch team lost to France in the quarter-finals.

In Dennis Bergkamp biography, we see that he scored his first hat-trick for the national team against Wales in the 1998 FIFA World Cup qualification, where they finished first in their group and qualified for the finals.

During the tournament, Bergkamp scored three goals, including a memorable winning goal in the quarter-final against Argentina.

The goal, which was his 36th for the national team, is considered to be his favorite in his career.

The All-Star Team

Dennis Bergkamp biography - The All-Star Team
credit: thesefootballtimes.co

Despite his impressive performances, the Netherlands lost to Brazil in the semi-finals of the 1998 FIFA World Cup.

Bergkamp, along with Frank de Boer and Edgar Davids, was named to the All-Star team of the tournament.

Bergkamp scored his last goal for the Netherlands national team against Brazil on October 9, 1999.

The team qualified for Euro 2000 as co-hosts and was highly regarded as one of the favorites to win the tournament.

However, the Netherlands lost in the semi-finals to Italy by a score of 3-1 in a penalty shootout.

After this defeat, Bergkamp decided to retire from international football so that he could concentrate on his club career.

He finished with a total of 37 goals in 79 appearances for the national team, but this record was later surpassed by Patrick Kluivert in June 2003.

His Coaching Career

His Coaching Career
credit: bleacherreport.com

After retiring from football, Bergkamp initially rejected offers to move into coaching and instead prioritized spending time with his family and traveling.

However, in 2008, he began a coaching diploma program for former Dutch football players and started a trainee role at Ajax.

Once he completed the Coach Betaald Voetbal course by the Royal Dutch Football Association (KNVB), Bergkamp was appointed assistant coach to Johan Neeskens for the newly formed Netherlands B team in October 2008.

During the 2008-09 season, Bergkamp formally returned to Ajax as a coach with responsibility for the D2 (U12) youth team.

Following Frank de Boer’s promotion as manager of Ajax in December 2010, Bergkamp was appointed assistant manager to Fred Grim, in charge of Ajax’s A1 (U19) youth team.

In August 2011, Bergkamp was named assistant to De Boer at Ajax.

However, after Peter Bosz was appointed as the new head coach at Ajax, Bergkamp’s role changed slightly.

He no longer sat on the bench during first-team matches but instead focused more on field training and helping youth players reach the first team.

Bergkamp and fellow assistant Hennie Spijkerman were eventually let go from their roles in December 2017.

Another biography you might be interested in is Roberto Mancini Biography.

Dennis Bergkamp Playing Style

Dennis Bergkamp biography - Dennis Bergkamp Playing Style
credit: thesefootballtimes.co

Bergkamp was trained in the Total Football philosophy, which involved playing in different positions to maximize a player’s potential.

He played in every position except for goalkeeper and believed that playing as a defender helped him understand how defenders think and how to beat them.

When he joined Arsenal, he played in his preferred position as a creative second striker and developed successful strike partnerships with Wright, Anelka, Henry, and Ljungberg.

Bergkamp was known for his composure and ability to score goals as a forward but was also capable of playing in a free role as a playmaking attacking midfielder or deep-lying forward due to his ball skills and creative ability.

Dennis Bergkamp biography explains that he often preferred playing in this deeper role as he derived more pleasure from assisting goals than scoring them himself.

Throughout his playing career, Bergkamp was accused of diving and being a “cheat” and “dirty player” for retaliating against players who had previously challenged him.

However, his former manager Wenger denied these accusations.

Bergkamp admitted that he had to adopt a tougher approach when he played for Inter Milan because players there would stop at nothing to hurt him, both physically and mentally.

He said that his aggression often stemmed from frustration.

Despite his struggles with Inter Milan, Bergkamp is regarded as one of the most technically accomplished players of all time.

He possessed an excellent first touch, quick feet, dribbling ability, and agility, which allowed him to beat defenders in one on one situations.

His attacking movement, physique, balance, and close control allowed him to hold up the ball and create space for teammates.

The Dutch player’s vision and passing range with both feet enabled him to provide assists for on-running strikers.

His Reception

credit: goodfon.com

During his career, Bergkamp received various honors and awards.

He was named in FIFA 100, a list of the 125 greatest living footballers by Pele and finished in third place twice for the FIFA World Player of the Year award in 1993 and 1996.

He also won two consecutive Dutch Footballer of the Year awards in 1991 and 1992 and was the Eredivisie top scorer for three seasons in a row from 1990-1991 to 1992-1993.

Bergkamp received several awards in the 1997-1998 season, including FWA Footballer of the Year, PFA Players’ Player of the Year, and was named in the PFA Team of the Year.

He also achieved a unique feat in winning first, second and third place in the Match of the Day’s Goal of the Month competition in August 1997.

Bergkamp was the top scorer for his national team at Euro 1992 and was selected in the FIFA World Cup All-Star Team for the 1998 World Cup.

In 2007, Bergkamp was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame, and in 2014, a statue of him was unveiled outside the Emirates Stadium to honor his time at Arsenal.

He has also been selected as the best Dutch international player from 1990 to 2015 and will have a statue erected outside the KNVB headquarters in Zeist alongside those of other notable Dutch footballers.

Dennis Bergkamp Outside Professional Life

Dennis Bergkamp biography - Dennis Bergkamp Personal Life
credit: theathletic.com

Bergkamp has been married to Henrita Ruizendaal since June 16, 1993, and they have four children together named Estelle Deborah, Mitchel Bergkamp, Yasmin Naomi, and Saffron Rita.

His son Mitchel is a professional footballer who plays for Bromley as of 2023.

His daughter Estelle is in a relationship with Manchester United midfielder Donny van de Beek, and the couple had their first daughter on April 9, 2022.

Bergkamp’s nephew, Roland Bergkamp, is also a former professional footballer. He is fluent in Dutch, English, and Italian.

Dennis Bergkamp life story shows that Bergkamp is nicknamed the “Non-Flying Dutchman” due to his fear of flying, which severely limited his ability to travel for away matches in European competitions and with the national team.

The fear is said to have developed during his first season at Inter Milan, where the team often traveled to away games in small airplanes.

While Bergkamp did consider seeking psychiatric help for his phobia, he ultimately lived with the condition and avoided flying whenever possible.

His fear of flying was a concern for Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who worried about Bergkamp’s exertions when traveling by train or car for away matches in Europe.

Damian Cade
Damian Cade
He is an enthusiastic senior writer for Footbalium who leans towards writing and researching the history of football clubs and players' life stories.
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