Arsenal legend Dennis Bergkamp will be honoured by the Arsenal with the unveiling of a statue of him outside the club’s Emirates Stadium. Arsenal currently have 3 statues outside the stadium. One of Tony Adams, one of Thierry Henry and one of Herbert Chapman.
Bergkamp’s statue is still in construction but pictures were leaked on Twitter of the statue, so I think this probably forced Arsenal to announce the plans early. It is believed that the statue will be unveiled before the start of the 2013/14 season.
The Dutchman was a fan’s favourite during his spell at the club. He joined the club in June 1995 for £7.5m from Italian giants Inter Milan. In doing so, he became the then club record signing. Bruce Rioch doesn’t get a lot of credit for his time at the club, but signing Bergkamp was a fantastic deal and he certainly deserves credit for that. Arsenal were a club in decline in the mid 1990’s. They still had success in the domestic cup competitions and also the Cup Winners’ Cup, but their league position at the end of the 1994/95 campaign was 12th, a position unimaginable for a lot of young fans nowadays. Also, keep in mind that in 1994/95, 4 teams got relegated as the league changed to a 20 team format instead of a 22 team one. Therefore, despite finishing 12th, the Gunners only survived relegation by 6 points.
The deal to sign Bergkamp was significant for more than one reason. Bergkamp was coming to England with his best days still ahead of him, he was in the prime of his career. The second reason is building upon what was mentioned above. It helped Arsenal re-establish themselves as a major force in English football. Arsenal finished 5th in 1995/96, booking their place in the UEFA Cup the following season. The following season the Gunners managed to finish 3rd, level on points with 2nd placed Newcastle. They had to settle for UEFA Cup football once again, but Arsene Wenger’s arrival during the 1996/97 season helped Arsenal complete the transformation from a mid-table cup side to Double winners in 1998.
Bergkamp won 7 major honours during his 11 years at the club. If you think how many semi-finals Arsenal got to and Final’s that they lost during that period of time too, it’s amazing how many he could have won.
With a grand total of 120 goals in 423 appearances and countless assists, there is no other word to describe Bergkamp than ‘legend’. He is one of those players that took your breath away. There are so many goals that only he could score. Newcastle in the league in 2001/02 is the favourite of many, his hat-trick at Leicester in 1997/98 was stunning and his goal at Sunderland in the FA Cup in 1996/97 earned him the applause of even the home fans. One of my favourite memories of a great Bergkamp goal wasn’t even in an Arsenal shirt. When he was playing for Holland in World Cup 1998 he scored a magical goal against Argentina that I will never forget. Absolutely superb.
There is no doubting Bergkamp is worthy of a statue outside the stadium and it was a privilege to see him play so often.