By Chris Harris

Of all the memories from Arsenal's farewell to Highbury, few match the moment when Dennis Bergkamp emerged from the bench.

As the Dutch master prepared for his last competitive appearance on English soil, the crowd rose to give him a standing ovation. Suddenly, news filtered through from Upton Park that West Ham had retaken the lead against Tottenham. As Bergkamp jogged onto the Highbury pitch for the final time, the stadium was rocking.

It was a fitting reception and, as he explained afterwards, an emotional day for the man himself.

"It was emotional personally because it was the end of my career, but saying goodbye to Highbury was a big thing as well," said Bergkamp.

"It's good to play football, especially here. It's an honour to play for Arsenal, to come on the pitch and show what I can do. I think when you're on the bench you're always hoping, if you're losing or if you're winning, you always want to get on.

"My team-mates know what I've done at Highbury and for Arsenal in general. They really respect that, they appreciate that and it shows what kind of players these are. They respect each other."

It's nearly 11 years since Arsenal fans awoke to back-page pictures of Bergkamp holding aloft a scarf at Highbury after completing his move from Inter Milan. It was a major coup which has paid rich dividends for club and player alike.

So was there ever a time when Bergkamp thought the grass might be greener away from the lush Highbury turf?

"Not really. I think there was one moment after my first year here when Bruce Rioch got sacked, I think that's the moment when I thought 'well, what's going on?' I never really thought of leaving but there were some doubts in my mind about my future at the time.

"Overall it has been tremendous. We've developed through the years, we've become a better team each year and it's a joy to work."

Of course, there is one more competitive game in Bergkamp's diary, the small matter of a Champions League Final against Barcelona in Paris. After that, the Dutchman will get ready for a new phase in his life.

"The Champions League Final is a big one, it's a major honour to be there of course [but] after that I don't know," he said.

"I'm just going to do the things I would normally do if I was on holiday, for example, but this time there's no coming back after the holidays.

"There are so many other things outside of football that you can enjoy, for example my family. I have a lovely family and I'd like to spend some time with them on the weekends, that's something I've never done before."

And with that he was gone, leaving Highbury for the last time after 11 seasons and countless memories to savour. Dennis Bergkamp - a true Arsenal legend. 

11/4 - Champions League Final - Arsenal to win in 90 minutes


Copyright 2014 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source Chris Harris 8 May 2006