Scoring ten goals on average is not eventuate impressive. But the goals that Dennis Bergkamp made in his twenty-year career were often exceptionally beautiful. High lobs, far out of reach for the keeper. Subtle lifts while the goalkeeper is going down. Yet the beauty of his goals was not important to Bergkamp, he says himself in the biography Dennis Bergkamp by Jaap Visser and David Winner. ‘I got upset when people said I chose the beautiful solution. No, it is the best way. There is often a lot of space above the keeper.’
His pieces of art cannot be conceptualized in advance. The moves that Bergkamp make suit that one, unique situation. Effective adaptation to the circumstances also explains Bergkamp’s most beautiful Arsenal goal ever, according to fans: his pirouette past Newcastle defender Nikos Dabizas, followed by a cross directional touch past the keeper. Bergkamp has been interviewed several times about what went through his head and did exactly when he scored that goal, in the tenth minute of the game on March 2, 2002.
His explanation helps to understand how a player hors category manages to do on the spot what he imagines on the spot . Practice purposefully? Well no. A creative football player like Bergkamp does not plan these kind of hunches. In his biography, he says: “When people ask if I came up with that goal that way, I always say that I didn’t get on the bus to Newcastle that day with the plan to score that goal. You get the ball played in a certain way, and then you turn and turn as the situation demands. “
Bergkamp’s art was created on the fly
This artwork is created on the fly: the movements suit that one, unique situation. Teammate Robert Pirès plays the ball a bit too far behind Bergkamp, who has come sprinting forward from the center line. ‘I’ve seen that the defender is diving in and know that the speed of the ball can help me’ Bergkamp explained in an interview. ‘If I hit the ball lightly, it still has speed, so I can give the ball a little spin so it stays within reach.’
Denis Bergkamp only scored eleven times for Inter Milan, mainly from penalties. ‘Even teammates broke with the tradition of not criticizing each other and openly scoffed at Bergkamp’, a 1996 story in the Dutch daily De Gelderlander states.
‘You go crazy if you worry about what they say and write in the papers’ Bergkamp told a reporter of the Dutch daily NRC Handelsblad in 1993. ‘I don’t pay attention to it’ After his failed adventure in Italy, he moves to England, and is booed at there also during his first season, when he fails to score. Soon after the ice-man found his rhythm.