Bergkamp Statue Revealed: "Henry Himself, Would Argue That Dennis Was Better."

The Flying Dutchman is being celebrated in North London this weekend - and this is why he deserves to be cast in bronze...
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The Flying Dutchman is being celebrated in North London this weekend - and this is why he deserves to be cast in bronze...

Bergkamp Statue Revealed: What The Arsenal Legend Means To Me

This weekend, whilst a lot of the British press are passing judgements on Arsenal's current star signing, arguably the greatest Gunners arrival of them all is set to be honoured outside Emirates Stadium.

As a big name with a similarly big price tag in 1995, Dennis Bergkamp had a slow start adapting to a new league, but went on to be revered by Arsenal fans. Certainly in the Wenger-era, few would argue that Thierry Henry is the greatest player for the Gunners.

Henry himself, would argue that Dennis was better.

As such, it seems all too fitting then that a statue of Dennis Bergkamp will be unveiled outside the Emirates Stadium on Saturday, joining club icons Herbert Chapman, Tony Adams and Henry who have been honoured in this way.

The bronze Bergkamp will be located nearest Thierry Henry by Arsenal's ground, which again is appropriate, as, if one didn't have the other, I doubt Arsenal would have been as successful as they were. The two were, quite simply, the perfect strike partnership.

It was in the pre-Henry days though, that Dennis Bergkamp first successfully crossed footballing borders. Signed by Bruce Rioch, Bergkamp represented a stark transition from the old, boring Arsenal, into the new, attacking, Wenger-ball Arsenal.

His arrival was a real statement. A signal of intent that Arsenal wanted to be challenging at the top of the table again after a few years without a league title, but, more importantly, wanted to do play exciting, attacking football in the process.

What helped Bergkamp to bridge this footballing gap was not only his ability - because he was a genius with the ball - but also, controlled agression. He could certainly look after himself if defenders tried to rough him up.

As the numbers of foreigners arriving in the Premier League increased, so too did their reputation for diving and feigning injury. But Bergkamp wasn't someone who could be bullied.

Having trained day in, day out with the likes of Tony Adams and Martin Keown, Bergkamp quickly learned how to deal with strong defenders. If someone kicked him, he would be happy to give them something back. Steve Lomas' nose will testify to that after being obliterated by the Dutchman's elbow in 1998.

It could be argued that those moments when his dark side appeared, along with his fear of flying, made him a flawed genius - but if anything, I think that those qualities added to the mystery and aura around him.

When Bergkamp had a good season, Arsenal invariably won something. He was the Player of the Year in the 1998 double season. After a dip in 2000-2001, he was back to his best to help his club to another double in 2002 - and then was a key part of the 2004 'Invincibles'.

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There are countless classic Bergkamp moments, namely that hat-trick against Leicester in 1997 and the goal that still has Nikos Dabizas dizzy in confusion against Newcastle in 2002, but there are some lesser mentioned DB10 moments which resonate with me.

Against Leicester City at Highbury in 1999, Bergkamp didn't score, but bagged four assists and had a hand in the other goal as the Gunners thrashed the Foxes 5-0.

He was at his assisting best again when Juventus were in town in 2001, as some mesmeric Bergkamp skill left Lilian Thuram confused on the edge of the box, before he clipped a perfect pass through for Freddie Ljungberg to score.

Then, in 2005, with doubts over whether he'd sign a new contract, Bergkamp put in a virtuoso display as he bagged a goal and assist in the 7-0 demolition of Everton.

However if pushed to choose a favourite Bergkamp moment, there's one that does stick out.

In the final year at Highbury, there were themed match days that reflected great moments or things associated win the club. The West Bromwich Albion game in April 2006 was supposed to be 'Fans Day', however the supporters hijacked that to make it 'Dennis Bergkamp Day'.

With fans decked out in orange, Bergkamp came off the bench to get the assist for Robert Pires, before curling a classic finish past the goalkeeper from outside the box in a 3-1 win. His understated celebration didn't match the joy around the stands.

Even though he neared retirement, he picked a great moment to offer a final reminder of his sublime skill.

Dennis Bergkamp was my childhood hero, and someone modern players should look to emulate. He was that rare breed: a star player who didn't want the headlines.

There was natural genius, but he was only so successful because of how hard he worked in training, and how he many times he made things easier for his team-mates.

I count myself extremely fortunate to have grown up watching Arsenal in the late 90s and early 2000s, with Dennis Bergkamp a major part of my footballing education.

To have him immortalised outside the stadium ensures that generations of Arsenal fans going to the Emirates Stadium will be reminded of his brilliance, whilst younger fans will ask about who Dennis Bergkamp was.

To future Gooners, he will be like a supernatural being with an iconic statue located where people worship the Arsenal.

But to fans who got to see this footballing God play, he will always be the greatest.

Follow Sam on Twitter at @SamsMatchReport