By Chris Harris

You must have done something right in your football career if your testimonial attracts luminaries like Johan Cruyff, Marco van Basten, Frank Rijkaard, Thierry Henry and Ian Wright.

All those and more were present as Dennis Bergkamp said goodbye to Arsenal - and football - at Emirates Stadium on Saturday. Afterwards, the Dutchman paid tribute to the legends who graced his big day.

"The effort Patrick Vieira and Thierry Henry made to come over from America to play and then go back again, that means so much to me," he said.

"The connection is still there, we have a friendship. Thierry is an amazing football player but he is also a strong personality and has always showed so much respect for me. That's why we have a good relationship on and off the pitch. There is an age difference but we respect each other.

"It is people [like Cruyff and Van Basten] who truly love football," added Bergkamp. "Apart from being there for me they love the game too so they want to show that with every opportunity. We asked them and they were ready to come over and be here. I showed them a lot of respect down the years and this is how they have paid it back."

On an emotionally-charged day, perhaps the most poignant appearance was that of Bergkamp's father. He was diagnosed with cancer last November but, after a successful period of treatment, Wim Bergkamp was at Emirates Stadium to kick off his son's final game.

"It was fantastic for me because it didn't look like he was going to make it," said Dennis. "He had a lot of doubts about [being there] but his treatments went very well and it was good to see him.

"He has been there since day one, from bringing me to training and going to every game in Holland, together with my mum. They even came over to England for every home game.

"For me it was fantastic to finish [my career] in the right way with them both here - and it was only right for him to kick the game off."

Copyright 2017 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to as the source
Chris Harris 24 Jul 2006