073. Dennis Bergkamp
Dennis Bergkamp was one of the most prolific and naturally gifted strikers in the world throughout the 1990s. With an ability to score spectacular goals at an extremely impressive rate, he has won domestic honours in three countries and represented his country in several international tournaments. Bergkamp started his playing career in his home town of Amsterdam with Ajax, making his top flight debut in the Netherlands in 1986 at the age of 17. In his first season the club won both the Dutch Cup and the European Cup Winners’ Cup.
In 1990, Bergkamp’s goals helped the club to their first Dutch title in five years, and he was rewarded with an international debut later that year against Italy. For the next three years Bergkamp was leading scorer in the Netherlands, and was Footballer of the Year twice as he helped Ajax to win the U.E.F.A. Cup and another Dutch Cup. He also shared the top scorer award in the 1992 European Championships as the Netherlands reached the semi-finals.
In 1993 he moved to Internazionale in Italy and won another U.E.F.A. Cup the following year, as well as helping the Dutch team to reach the last eight of the World Cup. His stay in Italy was not entirely happy though, and in 1995 he moved on to England to join Arsenal. Bergkamp was inspirational as Arsenal took the league and cup double in 1998, he was named Footballer of the Year and was in magnificent form as the Netherlands reached the semi-final of the World Cup where he scored the goal of the tournament against Argentina.
Bergkamp’s international career ended in disappointment as the Netherlands were knocked out of the 2000 European Championship on home soil after a semi-final penalty shoot-out defeat to Italy, but at domestic level the success continued to come. Arsenal won another double in 2002, followed by a successful defence of the F.A. Cup in 2003. In the 2003-04 season, Bergkamp took more of a back seat but still made in important contribution to another league title, as Arsenal took the championship without losing a match, adding another F.A. Cup win the following season before his retirement in 2006.