The Dutch ace, now assistant manager at Ajax, has spoken fondly of his time in North London – the 44-year-old understudy to Frank de Boer in Amsterdam spent 11 years at Arsenal and a decade under the long-serving French boss with whom he shared a close relationship and a mutual respect.
Wenger has spoken before about the understanding he had with his most gifted player – Wenger insisted Bergkamp was the most intelligent player he every worked with; a player with a unique gift that could do things no other could do.
Bergkamp made a total of 423 appearances for the Gunners, scored 120 goals, won three Premier League titles and lifted four FA Cups and remains a fans favourite and an idol hailed as one of the North Londoners’ greatest ever players.
Meanwhile, he’s learning and applying his trade as a coach over at the Dutch champions where he began his playing career as a 12-year-old boy. Bergkamp spent 12 years with Ajax before joining Inter Milan for just two years before he made his home in North London where he eventually retired in 2006 after taking Arsenal to the Champions League final.
He has spoken (respectfully) of ‘childish’ disagreements he had with Wenger during his spell there but his comments are far from derogatory - if anything these are the remarks of a man reminiscing with a childhood friend.
The suggestion has been mooted previously (by myself and others) that Bergkamp would be the natural heir to Wenger’s legacy at the Emirates. He, along with the likes of Tony Adams, Liam Brady and Steve Bould seem to get lured out of the woodwork whenever there is the sniff of a job going at Arsenal.
Bergkamp’s former teammate Adams has recently spoken of his desire to be involved in any capacity – even as the tea boy – such is love of the club. I’ve seen Adams and his old pal Martin Keown in the press lounge at the Emirates more times than I can recall, they remain indelibly attached to the club and etched on the ethos and history of which the fans are proud.
Is Bergkamp’s sudden sentimentality, as well as Adams’, part of a background scene which we are not privy to? Perhaps with the imminent departure of Liam Brady from the Arsenal academy where he is Head of Youth Development until next summer, the legends are sniffing around a position at the club with the knowledge that 63-year-old Wenger’s contract is in need of renewal and the old guy won’t be able to stay forever.
image: © nicksarebi