This theme coincides with the Eurosport Cup, which this week gives you the chance to vote for the greatest Premier League player of all-time
To be honest, a little part of me is still quite surprised that Dennis Bergkamp played in the Premier League at all. He was a player of such grace and beauty, such ethereal talent, that to see him in England was almost bizarre – a clash of cultures, an otherworldly alliance.
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Rhapsodising about his skill is needless, reeling off a list of his game-changing goals unwarranted, measuring his sheer influence pointless.
Tom Adams has forensically analysed the Dutchman’s exquisite strike against Newcastle - I need not repeat it all here.
And yet the word “forensic” is a good one when applied to Bergkamp; what he made look so effortless, original and unique was of course the product of decades of sheer hard work, application and consideration.
- The Eurosport Cup: Vote for the greatest Premier League player
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He knew he had the ability to be the best and did not rest until he achieved it. His nose-to-the-grindstone approach did not bring workmanlike results; it brought unearthly genius. His skill was never needlessly on display; he was never a showboater, or into humiliating his opponent. Everything he did was in pursuit of the larger goal - the team's victory.
And that mindset and endeavour also slowly began to change the club around him when he joined Arsenal. Not for him the slightly lackadaisical approach to training or matchday; he wanted his team to be the best as well. His team-mates, hypnotised by his genius, followed his example.
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It's worth noting the comments made by those colleagues.
Strike partner Ian Wright: "He was a massive signing for Arsenal and he's the one that all the success was built on. He was magnificent and is the best signing the club has ever made. He changed the DNA of the club."
Reserve goalkeeper Rami Shaaban: "I don’t think Thierry [Henry] would have been the player he was if we didn’t have Dennis in the team."
Then-youngster Adrian Clarke: "Standards were already very high when he arrived... this was the first time a truly world-class footballer, at his peak, had been part of the squad. He was on another level."
A cupboard of silverware followed - three Premier League titles, four FA Cups.
Yes, you can count up statistics – his four centuries of Premier League appearances, his hundred goals, and more. But that longevity is only a small part of his magic.
And yet one of his most endearing features was his famed fear of flying, necessitating long train journeys or car trips when a flight was simply not possible – this god of football was human after all.
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