We've re-published Arsène Wenger's programme notes from the forward's 2006 testimonial.
Read on to see what the manager had to say:
I was very lucky to find Dennis Bergkamp already in the squad when I arrived at Arsenal. You do not find a player like that everywhere you go, It was a blessing, a gift when I arrived.
I knew of his class before I arrived of course. I remember playing against Inter as manager of Monaco when he was there, and I saw him as a young player at Ajax too, but you only really find out about a player when you work with him every day.
"You do not find a player like that everywhere you go, It was a blessing, a gift when I arrived"
A lot has been said about Dennis over the years; about his class, about his intelligence – his remarkable intelligence - about his vision, basically you can never say enough about the player. But the one thing which is a real example for youngsters is that Dennis Bergkamp, and I have worked with him for ten years don’t forget, until the last minute of his final training session, he did not lose his concentration or dedication for one minute. For me that is more remarkable than anything else. Because the talent he got when he was born, and then developed it, but what I respect more was that every single day of his career, for 20 years, until the last minute, he never made a pass in training without thinking about it, or without putting every part of his brain into it. That’s something that I consider virtually impossible to do, such is the level of dedication needed, but he did it, and that’s what made him not only a super-talented player, but a remarkable player who always had 100 per cent concentration throughout every session.
That is a dream for a manager because I have seen many talented players, and some average players, give only 50 per cent concentration in training.
In England you have a phrase that Dennis was always a pleasure to watch. Well let me tell you that behind that pleasure for the viewer, was a great deal of dedication and hard-work from Dennis.
When you have a player like that as a coach, you do not tell him how to play football, you just try to fit him into the team in the way which allows him to express his talent to the maximum potential. He was always a striker, yet not a striker – a midfielder yet not a midfielder, so I always felt that the second striker position was his natural position. He was at ease there, he knew when to drop off, and he could just smell out the game. He had instinct and super intelligence. As well as his talent, he had super, super intelligence.
His role in the team changed over the years. When I first arrived he was a goalscorer, and obsessed by scoring like may forwards are, but slowly he became more obsessed by the team and by how much he can provide. He understood that he could score less, but help the team score more. But he still loved to score goals, and great goals too. I think my favourite would probably be the one he scored against Leicester at Filbert Street, his third in a fantastic hat-trick. It was something exceptional.
Dennis has always been a big favourite of the fans, and that sometimes puts extra pressure on me as a manager when he is on the bench. But you know that when you have to put a player like Dennis on the bench, even at 37, you still think sometimes it could be a mistake. You also feel unfair to him sometimes, but he always helped the team until the very end.
You will see today the respect that he had within the game, because I think that every player who played with him would love to be involved today. The players that will be playing in this game think a lot of Dennis, they respect him so much as a player and he was a joy to play with.
Personally I’m really looking forward to the game today too. It’s great to see the old players again. We have shared lots of good and bad moments over the years, happily mainly good moments!
It’s a testimonial so the same intensity will not be there of course, but there are a lot of winners out there.
Also today will be the first time football will be played at Emirates Stadium, which is the reward for a lot of work by everyone at the Club.
The board has gone through so much, and overcome so many difficulties to fulfil the project, and now it has happened – it’s concrete. An immense amount of work has been done and we are now able to put this Club into a much stronger position in the future. We are all very proud of achieving it and looking forward to a great game today.
And I hope Dennis enjoys the occasion, just as much as I have enjoyed working with him, and I’m sure you have enjoyed watching him, over the past decade.
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