In the world of football, there are few things that all fans can universally agree are good. Traditional, 3pm kick-offs in the Premier League may be one. The odd FA Cup giant killing on a muddy non-league pitch could be another. But as far as individual players go, there can’t be many footballers who are more widely admired than former Arsenal forward Dennis Bergkamp.
Bergkamp represented the Gunners over 400 times in the late 1990s and early 2000s, scoring 120 goals and helping return Arsenal to the days when they were one of England’s most feared teams. He was, of course, a vital part of the famous ‘Invincibles’ side, led by Arsene Wenger, who went an entire campaign unbeaten in the 2003/04 season.
And now the Dutchman is being honoured in fine style by the club – he is being immortalised in the form of a bronze statue outside the Emirates Stadium. His will be the fourth sculpture outside the stadium, with Herbert Chapman, Tony Adams and Thierry Henry already overseeing the matchday crowds in north London.
Bergkamp undoubtedly deserves the honour. The apex of skill and guile, his creativity was at the forefront of Wenger’s revolution. At the same time, he was influential in the dressing room and had leadership qualities of use, even in a side which included Patrick Vieira and Tony Adams. Though he was never blessed with blistering pace, he was arguably the complete footballer.
Which brings us to the modern day. Almost a decade on, Arsenal can only dream of the ‘Invincibles’ as they battle for a fourth place finish in the Premier League. But there is one interesting echo with that team.
In an interview last week, Gunners playmaker Santi Cazorla was asked about teammate Jack Wilshere. His response was interesting and enlightening.
Cazorla said: “I
“He’s young and has a spectacular future ahead of him and he’s also got a lot of room to mature and develop. I have no doubt that he’s going to be even more important here in the future.”
In the week that it was announced that one of Arsenal’s most talented footballers ever was to be honoured with a statue, there are parallels with their marquee man in the modern era – Jack Wilshere, “the complete footballer.”
He is still only 21-years-old and has his entire career ahead of him but Wilshere’s talents are such that he can reach and surpass the achievements of Henry, Adams and Bergkamp. Perhaps, a couple of decades down the line, Wilshere himself could be immortalised in bronze.See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Tottenham v Arsenal