It is 'Bergkamp Week' on Arsenal.com as we
build up to the Dutchman's farewell testimonial at
Emirates stadium on Saturday.
We asked Arsenal Magazine editor Andy Exley to choose his favourite Bergkamp interview from Club publications last season. He plumped for this one:
Arsenal smashed their transfer record when Dennis signed from
Internazionale on June 20, 1995. He made his debut on the opening
day of the season against Middlesbrough in the 1-1 live Sky Sports
Super Sunday game at Highbury. His first goals for the Club came at
Highbury, a month later, in a memorable win over Southampton. The
season ended with Arsenal finishing fifth, and taking the final
UEFA Cup slot with victory over Bolton on the last day of the
season, courtesy of BergkampÂ¹s winner in front of the
Clock End six minutes from time.
What are your memories of your debut Dennis?
Well it was my first connection with the crowd of course. I didn't know what to expect from the day. At that time I was one of the younger players at the Club. Look at the team that played that day, I think they were all older than me so that helped because it gave me a feeling that I would be ok with so much experience around me. That's how it felt. We had just had a good pre-season together, Glenn Helder was there with me. It was a new experience for me and I just wanted to play my own game. I was still looking for my sharpness of course after coming from Italy. We had quite an attacking team that day with Ian Wright, David Platt, Paul Merson. There was a great defence too, so it was quite a solid team already. Straight away I settled and it was a nice team to come into.
It was seven games until you scored for Arsenal, and you broke your duck with a stunning brace at home to Southampton. Was the pressure getting to you at that point?
No, because l didn't know anything about the media speculation waiting for my first goal. It was only afterwards I knew about that. I was living in a hotel at the time, I wasnÂ¹t reading the tabloids, and I didn't see the football programmes. After being in Italy I wasn't really interested in the tabloids. But I understand that it got to the stage where people were talking about it. There was something in the papers about who is going to score first, the new Tottenham striker, I forget his name [Chris Armstrong] or me.
Was there relief after you finally did score though?
As a striker you want to score, and when I did I thought 'ok, now I can start'. The second goal came and I don't think I would have scored that if I hadn't scored in the first-half. It gave me the confidence. I was trying to find myself until that point, but from then I felt that I had really started.
Were you wondering if you had done the wrong thing coming to England in those first few weeks?
No, because I thought it was all normal. I had come from Italy in a competition where not many goals are scored. I was just trying to find myself in the team, and in the country so that was more important than scoring goals at that time. Ian Wright was scoring, we were doing well, so there were no complaints, no pressure.
The season ended on a high with that late winner against Bolton, how important did that prove to be?
That was my first season and we weren't in Europe that year so anything we could achieve better than the previous year would have been good. For that time it was seen as a good season, but we needed something to show for it, and qualifying for the UEFA Cup was it.You donÂ¹t really realise how important it is until afterwards, the next season when you think, yes weÂ¹re in Europe now, we are a big Club.
Bruce Rioch, the man that brought Dennis to Highbury, was sacked
as manager just days before the new season, yet it
wasnÂ¹t until October that the new man, Arsène
Wenger, officially took over. It heralded the beginning of a new
era for the Club, and fans got an early taste of what to expect
from 'new Arsenal' when Patrick Vieira made a memorable
debut as a substitute in the 4-1 home win over Sheffield Wednesday.
In November Dennis played his part in his first victorious North
London derby, and celebrated the third goal with as much passion as
any fan that evening.
Arsène Wenger took over early in the season, were drastic changes made right away?
No, it was a subtle change. When he first came in he would always sit up in the Directors' Box at Highbury for the games. But it was a strange situation at first because we knew he had taken over, yet he was still abroad. Patrick Vieira had even signed and played for the team before Arsène Wenger took over. The staff didnÂ¹t really know what to expect. They hadn't seen the new manager yet [he was still under contract at Grampus Eight] but here was a player who he had brought in and they didnÂ¹t know what to do with him. I remember at first he was training with the reserves, for the first few days, because the staff didnÂ¹t know what to do with him. But then Arsène became more and more involved until he came over here for good. From then on it was a slow change, but a lot of things did change. The
training sessions, the food, but it wasnÂ¹t an abrupt change, it was subtle.
Patrick Vieira was just 20 when he made his debut 28 minutes into the game against Sheffield Wednesday. What do you remember from that day?
I didnÂ¹t play but I was there at Highbury watching. That was such a big game for him because from the first moment he was there, he came on and single-handedly changed the game. He had the authority, the posture, everything. You could tell he would become a big player. By that time we had seen him already in training and what he showed in that game was good enough for us and he never looked back. He needed that game to change everyoneÂ¹s mind and he did that. You could say that performance set the tone for his whole career at Arsenal.
In November we beat Tottenham 3-1 at home, is that one of your fondest Highbury memories?
Yeah, I didnÂ¹t know much about the rivalry between the clubs before coming here, but it came to me. People talk about it and at that time the level between the two teams was quite even and I realised that it was a fantastic game to play in and to do well in. There was an extra atmosphere. I played in the Milan derby, and big games for Ajax but because of the fans this is the typical derby. The fans are close to the pitch, and they create a great atmosphere. That particular game was fantastic. I won a penalty, Tony Adams then scored to put us ahead, and I scored the third one. For me it was the complete game because I got the assist for TonyÂ¹s goal too. Everything was there for me, there was a bit of drizzle, a fantastic atmosphere, and it was extra special because we beat Spurs.
Dennis Bergkamp was voted double Player of the Season as Arsenal won the FA Cup and League Å'doubleÂ¹ in 1998. He top scored for the team with 22 goals in all competitions, won two player of the month awards and the goal of the season. His season was cut short as he limped off injured during the penultimate match at Highbury, against Derby County, yet by then the hard work had already been done.
Early in the season you were on the pitch when your
strike partner Ian Wright broke the all-time Arsenal goalscoring
record at Highbury. Were you aware that you were a part of history
at the time?
Not at the time. It wasnÂ¹t until I got close to 100 goals myself, and looked at the all-time list, that I realised what he had achieved. It was amazing, breaking a record that had been there for so long. I saw him day in, day out, he just scored goals for fun, in training as well. He would score from such positions that I thought 'how did he do that'? I didnÂ¹t realise how impressive the record was until I saw it in writing, and saw his scoring ratio. We all loved him in the team and thereÂ¹s no doubt that if you donÂ¹t like playing football with Ian there is something wrong with you. He brings joy to the game. I came over from Italy where everyone was always very concentrated, professional and serious virtually all of the time. Even in Holland, music before games just doesnÂ¹t happen. For me Ian stood for all of that, the typical English atmosphere and humour in the changing rooms. It helped me a lot I must say, to make the switch from Italy.
You scored Match of the Day's Top 3 Goals of the Month in August, and won Player of the Month in each of the first two months of the season. Do you think that stage of your career was when you were at your peak?
ItÂ¹s difficult to say because I believe each season it gets more and more difficult to be a good player, you have to keep improving. The game is always changing. But take nothing away from that season because everything clicked at that time. I felt settled in the team and I felt I could take the pressure. In the first few years I wasnÂ¹t hiding, but there were players there who would take the pressure, but that year people expected more and I could do it. Week in week out that gave me confidence and thatÂ¹s why I had such a good season, and itÂ¹s one of the best IÂ¹ve ever had.
So physically were you at your peak then?
Maybe, but itÂ¹s now eight years later and I still feel good, and I can still score goals like I did. Maybe it just all clicked that year. People were looking at me, the players were looking at me too to make a difference and perform and I was able to do it. We all performed well that season though, it all came together for us.
Hobbling off at Highbury against Derby County with three league games and the Cup Final left must have been a huge disappointment for you, did you realise how bad the injury was immediately?
With a hamstring problem you know you will be out for some time, but I was happy because I knew I had done a lot of good things already for my team that season. I still felt I was a real part of it, it was disappointing to not be properly involved in the celebrations but the hard work had been done and I was involved in all of that. But it was hard missing those games. For me the only good thing, and the only thing to look forward to was the World Cup that summer. So I focussed on that. I was really looking forward to the FA Cup Final, really was, but it would have been harder if I didnÂ¹t have any football to play for the next eight weeks, but the World Cup helped me forget about it.
For the fourth season in a row Dennis Bergkamp reached double figures in the Premiership scoring charts, as Arsenal finished second in the table. But he was slowly becoming more recognised as a creator, as well as a scorer of goals no more so than when he was named man-of-the match in the 5-0 win over Leicester, after being involved in four of the goals. He also played in a couple of memorable Highbury fixtures that season Freddie LjungbergÂ¹s goalscoring debut against Manchester United and KanuÂ¹s controversial debut against Sheffield United in the FA Cup, a game which was later restaged.
Freddie Ljungberg made an instant impact on his Arsenal
debut, but when Arsène Wenger brings these unknown players
into the squad do you ever think 'is he going to be good enough
No because I'm a strong believer in only bringing in two, three or four players each season and they donÂ¹t have to be big names if you already have lots of big names, and at that time we did. We had players who could be there for a few more years, it was a solid team, with a good back four. Of course if you bring in a player nobody's heard of and he doesn't do well, then nobody minds, because you didn't expect anything. But if he is a success, then great, you have got a player out of nowhere, and Freddie made that impact straight away and became a great player. That's a talent of the boss of course, to be able to bring in players like him.
You didnÂ¹t score against Leicester City in the 5-0 win at Highbury, but you set up four goals. After a game like that do you go home just as happy as if you had scored a hat-trick?
Yes I do because although I score goals, I've never seen myself as a real goalscorer like some strikers can be, to be there at the right time to get the tap-ins. I think after that game people really started to think 'he's more of a creator.' People started to understand that and the previous season I was the top scorer but that wouldnÂ¹t happen any more. I now had more strikers around me who were better goalscorers and I'm happy with creating because I believe that's my strength, to see things. So if that combination works I don't have to be the goalscorer. I'm happy to drop back a little bit. I think I could be a selfish striker, but the way I play is to always look for the best option.
You played in the infamous Sheffield United FA Cup game at Highbury which the manager offered to replay at the final whistle. What was the players' reaction when you heard you had to re-play a game you had just won?
I think everyone had the same reaction, and knew it was not right to win it like that. We felt that we were strong enough to do that and looking back that was a great gesture. It was strange. Immediately the players thought it wasn't right. You canÂ¹t blame the players, and you had to laugh a bit, but it was just some sort of miscommunication. People didnÂ¹t really know what to do, we just looked around and everyone was carrying on. We were a little bit embarrassed but we played them again so it all worked out.
Also that season was ArsenalÂ¹s heaviest home defeat, albeit coming in a League Cup match, for 75 years. You played in that 5-0 Worthington Cup defeat to Chelsea, what are your memories of the day?
It was a young team but I was coming back from injury and basically I needed a game. The boss was using the Cup to play out the young players, so for me I was just playing a game but for Chelsea it was an important game and they played big players. It was strange to lose 5-0 but really that game doesnÂ¹t stay in my head as a really bad memory because everybody knew what was happening. There was a big team against the youngsters, so it wasnÂ¹t really seen as a big disappointment.
At the beginning if the 1999/2000 season Thierry Henry joined, and a new striking partnership was born. The season was most memorable for the UEFA Cup run which took Arsenal all the way to the Final. Once the Club made the decision to revert home European games back to Highbury from Wembley the results were instant.
Dennis Bergkamp 1999/00 statistics Competition Appearances Goals Premiership 23+5 6 Europe (Champions League) 11 4 Totals 34+5 10
You played and scored when Thierry made his Arsenal
debut on the opening day of the season at home to Leicester.
He says he was 'rubbish' in his first few games for
Arsenal, how did the rest of the players support him?
I've heard Thierry say that he thought he was rubbish when he first joined and thought that the other players would think he was rubbish too. But you know as a player when someone is rubbish or not. He might have had bad games in his head but we knew he had something, we could see by the way he moved, by his control, not just in the games but in training. There was so much potential there. It was just a case of giving him time to develop. I don't know how to explain it but in life you can feel if you have got something good, with anything, and we knew that he was going to come good. It was all there. I donÂ¹t know why it didn't work for him at first, I canÂ¹t talk for him but maybe it was because he was used to playing in Italy where you only get one or two chances per game so over here he was thinking 'I have to score with every chance' and he was trying too hard. But there was never a doubt that he would be successful. I tell you we have had some players here on trial before and you can tell early on when they aren't going to be good as well. You think 'hmm, that's not going to work', but for him we knew it would happen.
Arsenal didnÂ¹t have a great record at Wembley, our home from home in the Champions League, but did you personally enjoy playing there?
I loved it, I loved it there. As a striker you got more space and thatÂ¹s what I'm always looking for in a game. When you play on a narrow pitch it's harder, especially when teams come just to defend. Perhaps what happened for us at Wembley though was the other teams got a real boost from playing at Wembley. Our defenders used to say they would struggle there because they were used to being compact at Highbury, and at Wembley there was more space and we struggled with that. For me I always loved it there, I scored there for Holland too, so I enjoyed Wembley.
You scored the only goal in the semi-final first leg against Lens at Highbury, one of your most important goals for Arsenal?
I think so. We had to do something in Europe, get to a final. We played at home first so it was important to win that game and I feel we deserved to get to the final that year. People ask me a lot what my best ever goal is and I find it difficult to separate a good goal from an important goal. I can curl a ball into the top corner for example, but if you donÂ¹t win that game then it doesnÂ¹t matter. I can mention a few goals but I would say the one for Holland against Argentina [in the 1998 World Cup] because it got us to the next round. Then afterwards you look at it and can say it was quite special but the goal itself was probably the most important.
As the longest serving member of the squad, Dennis Bergkamp will have more to reflect upon than most when Arsenal finally say goodbye to Highbury the end of the season. The Dutchman is now into the 11th year of his Arsenal career, and heÂ¹s had plenty to celebrate during that time. Highbury has been the setting for many of his Gunners highlights both for the team and on a personal level. As well as enjoying three title-winning celebrations at the famous stadium, Dennis netted his first and 100th Gunners goals at N5, and has been involved in many of the Club's most memorable and significant performances at 'The Home of Football' since joining Arsenal in 1995. Last month Dennis recalled his first five seasons at Highbury. In this, the second part of the interview, he concludes by looking at the last five years, as well as speculating on playing at Emirates Stadium.
The season will forever be remembered for the agonising FA Cup Final defeat at the hands of Liverpool at the Millennium Stadium. It was a frustrating year for Dennis personally too as he was laid low for long spells with a succession of calf and Achilles injuries. When fit he was often vying for a starting position up front with Thierry Henry, Kanu and Sylvain Wiltord, and was occasionally used in midfield by Arsène Wenger during the campaign.
You played in midfield a bit that season, against Lazio
for example. How did you feel about that?
At the time it was hard for me to get into the team up front. The manager was trying other players, the rotation system as well, but he wanted to try me in midfield. I think I had an assist in that game against Lazio for Freddie, and generally I felt I had a good game there but itÂ¹s not me. It didnÂ¹t feel right. I used to play as a right winger, thatÂ¹s how I started in professional football, but this was more in midfield, a right half. Defensively I was not comfortable, I could learn it probably but it was not instinctive.
Dennis helped to inspire Arsenal to their third League and Cup 'double', and the second during his time at the Club.He missed just five league games and finished the season in unstoppable form, often providing the killer ball for Freddie Ljungberg who netted seven goals in seven games in April and May. Dennis netted his 14th goal of the season in the final game, at home to Everton, as the Premiership trophy was presented at Highbury.
You scored the winner to knock Liverpool out of the FA
Cup at Highbury, was there a measure of revenge in the air
following the previous seasonÂ¹s Cup Final
There was a great atmosphere in that game and it was probably due to the previous year's final. It was important for us to show something against them in that game. We always felt comfortable in the FA Cup though, every season, I donÂ¹t know why, it brought something extra to us each time, and atmosphere-wise it was special too. The team were always fired up for it, and yes there probably was some sort of revenge for the previous May. We had to prove something and we did.
Your partnership with Freddie reached its peak at the end of that season. What do you put the excellent understanding between the two of you down to?
Well he is probably the player that makes the best runs. If he goes at the right time he can just find his way through defences and he needs someone who can pass him the ball. He knows what to do with it then, he can control the ball and finish. That's a quality that's underestimated. You have the pressure of controlling the ball, then you have the pressure of scoring the goal, because people expect you to. HeÂ¹s a very good finisher, and how he does it sometimes you donÂ¹t know, but the ball goes in and it's a big quality that he has.
Do you two work on it in training or is it natural?
We never work on that, you can't I don't think. It's just a combination of my vision, my ability to pass the ball and see the gap I suppose, and his ability to make the run and finish it off. If it clicks, it's impossible to stop. You canÂ¹t defend against it. All you can do is put an extra man behind, but then that offers options elsewhere.
Having missed out on the Everton game in 1998, was the 4-3 home win on the final day of 2001/02 one of the most enjoyable atmospheres you've played in?
Yep, it was like a party. We had won it at Old Trafford the week before of course, but that was a great atmosphere in front of our fans that day. The pressure fell off and we could just play our game. It was a special day. You want to show how good you are, not by doing tricks and embarrassing the opponents, but by playing well and often that gets you a result too, even if you don't need it. It also meant we scored in every league game that season. When you joined that was exactly what you wanted, to play in an attacking team. It was fantastic, fantastic. ItÂ¹s what football is all about in my opinion. Fans will always want to see that. Of course they want results and titles, but week in week out they go to the games and they go to be entertained. When you get the results too you are spoilt. You want results, good football and goals we stand for that, we want to provide that and play in that way. ThatÂ¹s the way I always wanted to play the game so to be a part of it is fantastic.
Dennis became the 15th player to score a century of Arsenal goals when he scored against Oxford United at Highbury. The Gunners came close to clinching a second successive League and Cup 'double' but defeat at home to Leeds in May ended the title hopes.
How much did scoring your 100th Arsenal goal mean to
People were talking about it a lot before and I realised that it was quite a big thing. First of all you have to stay with the Club for a long time, and secondly you have to be an important part of the team at the highest level to score those goals. Those things all come to mind and you realise it's a good achievement. When you look at the list with all the names on it, you can be proud of it and I am. I'm happy to have that down on paper and to be a part of history. You played in the 3-0 home win over Spurs.
Was Thierry's goal that day among the best youÂ¹ve seen at Highbury?
Yes, I think you have to look at that one it was pretty impressive. It showed what he is all about strength, pace, good thinking in front of goal, and a calmness to finish. That sums him up I think. That goal certainly comes to mind straight away when I think of Highbury.
The 3-2 home defeat to Leeds at the end of the season confirmed that we lost the title. Was that one of the hardest defeats to take at Highbury?
I don't remember too much about that game to be honest. What I do remember from that time was that games were a struggle for us, we weren't making it easy and that defeat to Leeds summed it up. It wasnÂ¹t our year, and we were always having to make an extra effort in those last few games that season, nothing came easy for us. Of course defeats like that are always very difficult to take but there is always something to look forward to afterwards and that's what you have to do to stay positive.
Dennis played his part in the incredible unbeaten league season, as he won his third championship medal in English football. The title was wrapped up at White Hart Lane, and the Gunners' place in history was assured when Arsenal defeated Leicester at Highbury on the final day Bergkamp superbly setting up Patrick Vieira for the winner. The season also saw the introduction of Jose Antonio Reyes, the latest of a long line of 'next Dennis Bergkamps'.
You helped Arsenal make history by beating Leicester on
the last day to complete an unbeaten league season. What was that
Well the only aim was to remain unbeaten, we had already won the trophy so it was a bit strange. We had just had a couple of dodgy results before, a few draws, so we were thinking 'here we go'. We just needed to put things right in that game and it was a struggle that day too because we had to come from behind. We felt as a team that we were going to be OK though, and we showed what we wanted to do in that game.
A couple of weeks earlier we were trailing 2-1 at half-time at home to Liverpool in a crucial league game. What did Arsène Wenger say during the interval?
The boss said what he usually says, 'believe in yourselves, just play, play your game' because we were holding back. That happens a lot, we hold back and wait for something to happen instead of making it happen. A lot of our bad results come that way. We sit and wait and see how the game develops. When we step up, make the game our own, you see a totally different team. That was an example of that against Liverpool. In the second-half we got out there and turned it around.
So what does Arsène usually say at half-time, does he ever get angry?
He's very intelligent, he does his team talk and says the things he wants to say and thatÂ¹s it. He hardly ever gets frustrated or mad because he believes in his players. If someone makes a mistake, that's ok, there is no point in hammering a player for that. If they make the same mistake two or three times, then you start to think hang on, are you awake? Then he will mention it, but he hardly ever gets really upset. I think for the team he has created we donÂ¹t need that approach anyway because the team aren't likely to respond to it.
Jose Reyes scored his first Arsenal goals in the home FA Cup win over Chelsea. WhatÂ¹s he like to play up front with?
It's a different style. HeÂ¹s amazingly quick with or without the ball, heÂ¹s got a lot of tricks, a good left foot. For him I think it's important he continues to develop each year because he's an amazing talent but itÂ¹s not only talent you need in English football. He has really responded to that challenge though this year already.
Do you think he will be more of a creator or a goalscorer?
I think it's hard to know. He loves the ball, he loves to play with the ball, he needs to have a few touches but thatÂ¹s his game. I think he is still looking for what his position is, he likes to play on the left or up front, he can do both, that's the main thing, but he is an amazing talent and a great left foot. You can see that from the start and heÂ¹s one that is loved by the fans.
Last season Dennis earned his seventh major honour for the Club, ending another superb year on the winning side in the FA Cup Final. It was also the season in which Arsenal set a new record for the longest unbeaten run in football league history. Going into the final home game of the season, against Everton, it was still not clear whether Dennis would be offered a new contract for the following year. He produced a vintage display in the 7-0 win over Everton though, and the adoring Highbury crowd made their feelings known with chants of 'one more year' ringing around the stadium.
You scored in the home match against Middlesbrough which
equalled the all-time unbeaten league run. We won 5-3 after
trailing 3-1, what emotions did you experience that day?
It was fantastic. For me personally there is one picture that sums it all up. After Reyes scored I am in the background celebrating and I was so pleased. It was like it had all worked. We came from behind, and then suddenly we started playing again and made the difference. It was a fantastic feeling. I was captain that day too so I was proud, really proud - my players had done it! I played a part in it too and I really enjoyed that day, I really did.
In the next game at Highbury Cesc Fabregas became ArsenalÂ¹s youngest ever league goalscorer. What are your thoughts on him?
Cesc surprised a lot of people at the start of that season, including people inside the Club. His talent was always there, his vision his passing, that was there. But it seemed when he first came, he was 16, but the pace at which he was doing things was not at the highest level. But he came back after that summer and he had just changed it. He started in the Community Shield, and from then he really surprised us. Tackles were flying in and we could see he had added it to his game. The year before when he was 16 you could say that was missing from his game, but last season he added it. He is another one in the category of unheard of players who will become a big name. He has got a good mind, he loves football and he always looks for the right solution.
The season finished at Highbury with that 7-0 win against Everton. You made three and scored another in that game, did that evening sum up your relationship with the Highbury faithful?
I think so. That was quite emotional. The contract hadnÂ¹t been sorted out, the manager had said something two or three days before the game, but nothing was decided, it could have gone the other way too. For me it was one of those games when everything worked. Maybe I had to prove a point, I donÂ¹t know. It was a fantastic game and the fans were just amazing. They picked it up straight away and it makes you realise that the supporters really know whatÂ¹s going on. I wondered how they would react, I hadnÂ¹t talked to a lot of people about the situation, but they picked it up and went with it.
So what does the future hold for Dennis? This is likely to be his final season at Arsenal, and of course it is certainly his last at Highbury. His impact on Arsenal, and indeed English football, will never be forgotten though he has already racked up more appearances for an English club side than any other foreign player in history. Now in his 11th season, he is due a testimonial, which is likely to be at Emirates Stadium in the summer.
Looking at your Arsenal career, what has Highbury meant to you?
You canÂ¹t sum it up in one word or even a few words, it's a combination of things. For me, when I think of Highbury, it's the fans, the closeness of the stadium to the pitch, my family up in the executive box, the grass, the superb pitch, the little tunnel that when you are in you think 'is this one of the top five clubs in the world?' the half-way house, the dressing room, the clock everything. ItÂ¹s all very traditional. It could be much more modern, but in English tradition it wouldnÂ¹t be the same so that couldnÂ¹t happen. Then as soon as we go out there, we play such a modern, attractive style of football and that contrasts nicely with the traditional, historical setting of the stadium - that sums up the 11 years for me.
YouÂ¹re due a testimonial Dennis, which could possibly be at Emirates Stadium?
Yes, I'm hoping for a game there. I think they have to have two or three preparation events at Emirates before the season starts, and a testimonial could be one of those. I'm not sure yet, but it would be great to get the chance to play there. It will be nice to have some connection with the new stadium, I will have an idea what it will be like to play there because I don't think there's any chance of another season from me. At the moment I feel happy with my career so far and it would be a nice moment to stop because itÂ¹s the end of Highbury. And to be honest I will be 37 at the end of the season, and that will be enough.
So what will you do after retiring? Could you envisage staying in football?
I would have to see what happens, see what comes my way. If I miss it, I will go back into football, if I donÂ¹t then I will stay away. But at first I think I will just enjoy life without the big part that football plays. I will do other things, enjoy England, enjoy London. I think we would stay living here for a while. We will go to Emirates Stadium to watch the team. I will have a box there so IÂ¹ll be able to shout out to the players that they are rubbish!
*amended for the website version to include his games up to the end of the 2005/06 campaign.Copyright 2013 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 19 Jul 2006