Gooners of 1995-2006, Never Forget How Lucky We Were!

Watching the World Cup always brings out the romantic in me. By that I mean it makes me think of the greats that I as a young one wasn’t around (and thus lucky enough) to see play. Those type of players who I feel are better than any that play nowadays.

A lot here could name them better than me, but I’ll throw out a few: Pele, Alfredo di Stefano, Zico, Bobby Charlton, Franz Beckenbauer, Liam Brady, Johnny Giles, Ferenc Puskas, Gianni Rivera, George Best and Teofilo Cubillas among others.

In my head, they are perhaps twice as good as they were on the field. I feel like I have missed out on something and the grainy footage that plays on my DVD player doesn’t do them justice. Last night after Germany demolished a static Australia, I sat down and instead of pining to “have seen Brady play at Highbury just once” I actually thought how lucky I was to have seen some of the players I have seen over the years.

I was born in 1986, got caught up in the football fever that swept Ireland during Italia 90 before becoming a Gooner in 1994. During that time I’ve seen some wonderful players: Maradona still had a bit left in his legs during the early 90s. There was that wonderful AC Milan team of Rossi, Baresi, Maldini, Rijkaard and Weah and the insane skills of Zidane, Raul, Ronaldinho and Ronaldo (the Brazilian one) in their prime.

At Arsenal we had some of our own players who were above others on the field. One stands head and shoulders above the rest – the Iceman, DB10!

Dennis Bergkamp’s arrival in London in 1995 saw the beginning of a new dawn at Arsenal as the club began to look to Europe for more talent. Some say that it was Wenger who gave the go-ahead for Bergkamp’s signature, others claim it was David Dein but lets give the credit to Bruce Rioch. He was manager, he was there when Bergkamp first held aloft the wonderful red and white.

The Dutchman came to us under a cloud. At the time he was the second most expensive signing in the world after Inter Milan paid Ajax £12million for his services in 1993. He flattered to deceive in Italy and just two years on arrived in North London for £7.5million. During the very early days, many claimed that Arsenal had wasted what was then a decent sum of money – now it is seen as one of the biggest bargains in football history.

It took Bergkamp seven games to score his first goal for the Gunners (against Southampton) and during this time he went through a tough transitional period, but then he got going, oh how he got going! He got going so much after that there was literally no stopping him.

In 423 games he scored 120 goals and I have enough confidence to say that NOT ONE of them were run of the mill tap-ins. Bergkamp didn’t do run of the mill, he did majestic, he did magical, he did genius. I have studied English Literature in college, read the greats like Byron, Keats, Shakespeare and Joyce, yet I still struggle to find a superlative to do justice to the Iceman. It seems utterly useless to even try now, so I’ll go through some of the goals he scored and you can try and put an adjective on them in your own head.

1. September 1997. His hat-trick against Leicester is voted as the first, second and third best goal of the month on Match of the Day.

2. 1998 World Cup. Long ball by Frank de Boer, Bergkamp controls it with one touch – dismissing the Argentine defender Ayala in the process – then smashes home.

3. March 2002. With his back to goal Bergkamp receives the ball from Pires, he sends the ball one way before he twists the other, rounds the dumbfounded Nikos Dabizas of Newcastle and slots the ball past Shay Given.

I remember watching the Newcastle game live on television. When Bergkamp did what he did my jaw dropped and hit off the ground – I only managed to get it back up last week. Yes, it was THAT good!

But just talking about Bergkamp’s goals is like just talking about Michael Jackson’s dancing. They are merely the icing on the proverbial cake. Michael Jackson was much more than an extremely talented dancer – he was a songwriter, a singer, an entertainer. Likewise Bergkamp was more than a goalscorer – he was the songwriter, singer and entertainer in our pack. Some of the passes he tried to play were ridiculous – to even think of attempting these passes was madness but it was crazy that he could actually carry them off. He created goals and found space for teammates like it was going out of fashion.

And for 11 years, ELEVEN YEARS it was Arsenal fans and Arsenal FC who benefited from his genius. It was US who got to watch him week in and week out while everyone else just wished they would have taken a punt on the man who nobody in Italy wanted. Nobody else got him after us either – we had all Bergkamp’s wonder to ourselves. So never, ever forget just how lucky we were to see that.

Dream of Puskas, Pele and Maradona, wonder now at Messi, Kaka and Torres but remember that once upon a time everyone else was doing the wishing. Dennis Bergkamp is the most technically gifted player to ever ply his trade in English football and he did so at the home of football. Some say his career was marred by the fact he wouldn’t fly and thus missed out on some vital European games. Well let me end this by asking you a simple question: would you fly if you could walk on water?

79 Responses to Gooners of 1995-2006, Never Forget How Lucky We Were!

  1. Morning all

    Great post Irish and an excellent reminder of how lucky we were to have him and how lucky our players should feel to be following in his footsteps.

  2. charybdis1966 says:

    Morning all, I’m guessing this is one of Maire’s posts and I applaud it for highlighting my all-time favourite AFC player.
    That I got to see the great man live, time after time, is one of the things I am truly greateful for.
    I liken him in many ways to another artistic genuis who he looks like eerily, my favourite gutiarist of all time, Michael Schenker.

    The great man’s legend has not been tarnshed since he left us, unlike others, like Wrighty and to an extent Thierry.

  3. Rasp says:

    Morning all,

    Wonderful piece of writing irish. My daughter is 20 now and loved DB10 from the first time I took her to Highbury It’s a bit unfair really because she has been used to such high standards everything seems insipid in comparison these days.

  4. tommystout says:

    wonderful writing IG, he’s my all time favourite player … is it wrong that my favourite goal was his dutch goal v argentina i was in awe that day, but then again there have been many of those “awe”some moments with Mr Bergkamp.
    I never got to grips with MSG Charey, maybe i missed out or had the usual terrible late night reception with Tommy Vance !

  5. SharkeySure says:

    I salute you Irish…..exellent post from start to finish, and your final line deserves a medal of its own.

    Perhaps “would you fly if you could walk on water?” shoud have been the title of the post..? Maybe, maybe notm, but it should defintely adorn Iceman t-shirts sometime soon.

    That phrase is already iconic in my mind.

  6. charybdis1966 says:

    His best moments were probably with early UFO TommyS to be honest although some of the MSG stuff, especially “Live at the Budokan” was lethal stuff. Much like DB10, he was the star whenever he took to the stage/field.
    Both of them were capable of moments of sheer artistry and creative genius.
    Sadly I didn’t get to see Schenker live, he was unfortunately in his Gazza phase(i.e. pissed all the time and unable to tour) by the time I was of concert going age, however I saw DB10 at Highbury frequently and Wembley a few times.

  7. Alfa says:

    Irish, thanks for reminding of my three favourite moments of my all time favourite player, bar none. I was thinking about the Holland goal yesterday, watching them toil against Denmark.

    (Less thanks for making me feel so old by pointing out that you were born two years after I got married 🙂 )

  8. London says:

    I was welling up more and more as I enjoyably read my way down, nearing the end I thought I had things under control until I reached the last line “Would you fly if you could walk on water” and the tears rolled.


    You make this site shine.

  9. London says:

    Morning all

    On a more light hearted note.

    Rob Green has trained today and in 3 hrs he had 4,000 shots fired at him and did not concede a single goal. Tomorrow, him and Heskey will train with the rest of the squad.

  10. charybdis1966 says:

    In the same vein as London’s comment: “Police in South Africa admitted that they had concerns about sex fiends and drug pushers being active during the World Cup – but they expect this to be less of a problem once England get knocked out and John Terry goes back home. “

  11. charybdis1966 says:

    Gotta love Gilberto – advising Cesc to stay with us. Compare this to Wrighty who made his son play for the Chavs, where he ruined his career.

  12. Rasp says:

    Morning London,

    I think we should have a tab at the top for some of the gems in posts by the writers don’t you? Your “more poles than the Spearmint Rhino” and irish’s “Why would you fly if you could walk on water” will certainly qualify.

  13. Rasp says:

    NewsNow have chosen to ignore todays post. We are emailing them to try to rectify the oversight.

  14. gooneramaan says:

    he was the master’s, u can praise Henry as much as u want but Bergkamp is the greatest Arsenal player for me.

    Southampton is a lucky charm for Arsenal. Henry scored his first goal against them, Bergkamp did. I am sure many other Arsenal great scored their first goal against them.
    We even started out 49 Unbeaten run against Southampton with a 6-1 win. when Pires and Penant got a hatrick in that match.

  15. charybdis1966 says:

    Gooneramaan – I was there for that game, high up in the North Stand and when Bobby scored his chipped goal and he went off to the corner flag, finger wagging, I was so high up that he disappeared from view as he arced his celebration run.
    Happy days…

  16. Big Raddy says:

    Superb Irish, possibly your best yet. The final line, a killer.

    Perhaps we can have a Posts of Glory section.

  17. Big Raddy says:

    Chary. I was in the Clock End for DB !st. Wasn’t Wrighty’s first away at S’ton?

  18. charybdis1966 says:

    Radders, I should have said I was in the North Bank for the 6-1 win against Southampton.

    Wrighty’s first goal was away to Leicester in the League Cup; the only debut I’ve been around for was Arshavin’s debut appearance and his first goal – the incredibly tight angled, squeeze strike against Fat Sam’s Blackburn.

  19. irishgunner says:

    Afternoon all – so glad ye liked it. I love the Iceman – what a genius.

    Loved Henry too (still do despite the naughty, naughty hand ball ha ha) but why I loved Bergkamp more is this: with Henry players knew what he was going to do (sprint past them and curl the ball into the net) but still couldn’t do anything about it, with Bergkamp nobody knew what he would do – he’d just come out with some wonderful turn or rasping shot.

    London: I had to read this twice ” Rob Green has trained today and in 3 hrs he had 4,000 shots fired at him and did not concede a single goal. Tomorrow, him and Heskey will train with the rest of the squad.” – Then I got it second time and haven’t stopped laughing yet, classic ha ha.

  20. irishgunner says:

    Have ye seen the new away shirts?

    Nice except for the lines.

  21. charybdis1966 says:

    Maire, how about: Rob Green got rejected by his Building Society, the refused him a Savers account.

  22. kelsey says:

    Irish, you are a true gem, I am sure at least half our hits are because of you.

    Dennis, has always been my all time favorite,and i go back many years,his personna was something else.

    Off subject: By the way did you read this “he didn’t have the rob of the green “

  23. irishgunner says:

    Chary – 😆 Rob Green jokes will never get old. Although I do feel sorry for him. I haven’t really read much of the tabloids but I presume its all his fault according to them – what he did was horrific but personally I think not too many of the English players can leave that pitch with their head held high.

    Kelsey – Thanks 😳

  24. irishgunner says:

    Rob Green jokes are getting out of hand and – quite frankly – crossing the line!!

    *ahem* get me coat.

  25. charybdis1966 says:

    I like the one I did @10.44, Terry deserves all that he gets IMO, Maire. I feel that the overriding impression given off by the red tops is that the honey moon period with Capello is over, he picked out of from, unfit players despite saying he would pick in-form players with no doubts about their fitness.
    So Heskey, Carrick and Wright-Phillips were in form? There were no injury doubts about Ledlegs King, Ferdinand or Milner? How mad were the FA to extend his contract BEFORE his performance at the World Cup could be assessed?

  26. irishgunner says:

    Chary there is a facebook page called “If only John Terry had shagged Rob Green’s bird.” ha ha

    England should still top the group but the knockouts could start getting dodgy. Will he be standing under an umbrella in a few weeks looking disconsolate? We’ll see!

  27. charybdis1966 says:

    Well there’s snow forecast at the venue of Inggerrland’s next match Maire, so Perhaps Capello will be donning designer ski wear on Friday. 🙂

  28. charybdis1966 says:

    PS – I think Green took his eye off the ball looking about when he couldn’t see where Terry had wandered off to.

  29. irishgunner says:

    I would like to blame John Terry too ha ha.

    Only 40 minutes until ….. EBOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOUE!! Portugal vs Ivory Coast better be good.

  30. irishgunner says:

    Skittles didn’t have his defensive line in order there…

  31. kelsey says:

    What did i say this morning about no hopers New Zealand, they did themselves proud.

    kelsey says:
    June 15, 2010 at 8:46 am (Edit)

    I am not glued to every game, watching parts of some games, zealand have a very good coach, will be sought after by many after this World Cup.There could well be a surprise in this match .

  32. irishgunner says:

    Don’t see either New Zealand or Slovakia getting through though – both pretty poor.

  33. irishgunner says:

    Love Apres Match:

  34. irishgunner says:

    Eboue is wearing some fancy underwear 😆

  35. London says:

    Please Brasil, save us from this dirge.

  36. irishgunner says:

    I don’t see North Korea doing anything other than having 10 men on their own goal line and then one in the penalty box to hoof it down the pitch.

  37. Irish if you’re around NN have just published 🙂

  38. I sent them another reminder, next time this happens someone remind me to notify them a couple of times

  39. irishgunner says:

    Cheers Peaches 😀

  40. Ole Gunner says:

    Thanks for this piece.

  41. London says:

    Hello Ole

    What a pleasure it is to have you on the site, I hope you come back. It might be a bit different to what you are used to; we have different authors every day and encourage views from every part of the Arsenal supporting spectrum so some you will agree with and some you most certainly will not. If you are interested in writing something yourself have a look above in “Be our guest”, as I said I hope you come back whether it be in the capcity of head line post or simply just a comment.

  42. kelsey says:

    Hi London,

    I did answer your question the other day about the 3 players being released.

    Have to agree that knowing full well that first round matches are cagey, this has been a dire opening 5 days except for the odd moment or two.

  43. manmohit says:

    well i never posted on this blog before this, but this article prompts me to…
    A master piece, and well far from all these transfer speculations these days that have clouded all the blogs.

  44. forza forza says:

    unfortunately that’s all we have now is memory’s,none of this current lot will amount to anything.

  45. Big Raddy says:

    Amazing to read a comment like forza’s. Where does one get an opinion like that?

    RvP not amount to anything? Cesc? Arshavin? TV? etc etc.

    It is a strange form of “support”.

  46. Big Raddy says:

    Irish. You ae right about the Brazil game.

    But with so little International experience N.K. have no alternative.

    Hopefully they will become more expansive as the game and tournament progresses.

  47. Big Raddy says:

    Anyone remember Pak Doo Ik ?

  48. dandan says:

    Evening All…….Smashing read Irish, We were indeed the lucky ones, I saw him get that hat trick from a seat virtually at pitch level, absolute poetry.

    Charlie George told me Bergy was the best he had ever seen, he did things in training that were beyond belief, and he knows a bit about football.

  49. dandan says:

    Raddy. Re Forza, it takes all sorts mate.

  50. dandan says:

    Arsene is watching the Brazilians, wonder if he is standing on his cheque book.

  51. Big Raddy says:

    DD. Shame we got rid of the stocks!

  52. dandan says:

    Listen mate the way the market is going, we might all be better off doing that lol

  53. Big Raddy says:

    DD. Don’t I know it!!

    Fairplay to N.Korea they have really played well in that half, and it was very entertaining. Their workrate is astonishing.

  54. craig says:

    great post irish, when you started talking about bergkamp the hairs stood up on the back of my neck, and the ending of “would you fly if you could walk on water” had me crying nearly, it was so fitting for such a fantastic player!

  55. smithfield says:

    fly and you can see the whole world, walk on water and you can only see the lake and ocean. your choice buddy.

  56. SharkeySure says:

    Are you for real Smithfield..??

    I’d challenge you to quote a better line you’ve read today…on any topic, in any context.

    Ten mins.?? Clock starts now !!

  57. dandan says:

    Smithfield that is a load of bull…..

  58. Big Raddy says:

    Anyone who uses the term “buddy” is a plum of the first order.

  59. SharkeySure says:

    Lets not chase him away…..let him explain it, support it/retract it, or somehow exceed it.

  60. Big Raddy says:

    Very magnanimous Sharkey, and you are right. Perhaps smithfield is creative and can furnish us with his ingenuity, though somehow I doubt it ……

  61. SharkeySure says:

    Times up Smithy, you bull shitting plum 😉

  62. SharkeySure says:

    I know we don’t mention ‘the other site’ over here…but new depths were plumbed today.

    Shocking, and thats after thinking yesterdays was pretty incredible (in the nadir sense) !!

  63. Big Raddy says:

    IMO that was the best game we have seen. Credit to NK.

  64. andy says:

    Yet another great post Irish. The single most gifted footballer I’ve ever seen and a true Highbury legend.

  65. Nick says:

    Bergkamp was truly a Dutch master, even Van persie is still learning from him, check this link:, you’ll love it. I think Green will go on to have a good world cup, he just had a bad start.

  66. PTangYangKipperBang says:

    Beautiful tribute to an absolutely fantastic icon of our club. DB10 was awesome and it is a point well made that we were blessed to have him. How we could do with a player like him now.

  67. Miguel says:

    Bergkamp is still my favourite football player. Quiet and loyal, I appreciate everything about him. Strangely to me, gunners give warm welcomes to henry, who I consider a traitor, Bergkamp stayed and had his beautiful goodbye. I still buy my kits with Bergkamp 10 in the back.

  68. Big Raddy says:

    I wonder who will get the No. 10 shirt with Gallas leaving.

  69. Raddy are you about, I wanted to ask you something

  70. Livers says:

    Joe Cole BR ?

  71. Big Raddy says:

    Yes I am Peaches

  72. charybdis1966 says:

    Morning all – and what a chilly June morning it is too !
    Radders, I reckon we should give the number 10 to the Meerkat – it was his preferred number all along I believe.

  73. I’ve emailed you but if you put your skype on we could IM

  74. Rasp says:

    Morning all,

    It is looking increasingly likely that Koscielny will be this summer’s ‘Vermaelen’ The player is reportedly making all the right noises about wanting to play for us – and that’ll do for me.

  75. charybdis1966 says:

    Hi Rasp – but is he bigger than 5′ 10 & a 1/2″ ?

    I remember there was much debate about whether the Verminator was tall enoguh and how many had written him off as being too short to be a decent defender.

  76. Rasp says:

    Hi chary,

    I believe he is 6ft 1in, so a tad taller than TV. I’m hoping its a question of “if you’re good enough, you’re tall enough”

  77. charybdis1966 says:

    That should be enough for aerial presence then Raspers. Presumably he’ll get the number 6 shirt if he comes in.

  78. Rasp says:

    I hope so. Shame about Sol. I’d have liked to have ssen him at the WC and with us for one more season. Gallas is gone and quite rightly so. The interesting question is – will we buy 2 CB’s?

  79. Same post NEW PAGE – press Home to continue

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: