Arsenal legend hinting he will return as coach
Dennis Bergkamp paid an emotional tribute to his former Arsenal team-mates and family as he was immortalised with a bronze statue outside the Emirates Stadium – and hopes one day to return to the club.
The Dutchman was honoured with a permanent tribute outside the Clock End, following along from those for other Arsenal legends such as former manager Herbert Chapman, captain Tony Adams and club-record goalscorer Thierry Henry.
Bergkamp joined Arsenal from Inter Milan in June 1995, and went on to play more than 400 games for the Gunners, scoring 120 goals. The Holland forward helped win seven major trophies with Arsene Wenger’s side, including the ‘Invincibles’ Premier League campaign of 2003/2004.
Legend: Bergkamp spent 11 years at the club, scoring 120 goals in 423 games and setting up many more
Emotional: Bergkamp admitted this was ‘a special moment to be honoured’ as he spoke to fans
The ice man commeth: The bronze statue is located outside the Clock End at Arsenal’s Emirates stadium
Honoured: A humbled Bergkamp addresses the fans while young supporters take in the statue (R)
New signing? Arsenal fans chanted ‘Sign him up’ as Bergkamp gave a speech at the unveiling
Hundreds of Arsenal supporters turned out to welcome the 44-year-old back to London with many chanting ‘Sign him up! Sign him up!’, as long-serving club director Ken Friar marked the official unveiling of the statue.
‘I spoke to Thierry Henry last night and he warned me about this moment, he said ‘you will be fine until you have to talk a little bit, and you will be emotional’, that happens to me now,’ said Bergkamp.
‘All this makes you realise how many good years we had here and how big this club has become over the last 20 years. I was just happy to play a role in that.
‘You all see me as a team player, and there is only one statue of me, but I believe it is part of a whole team that I was involved in which made me shine.
‘When you think of that team, it is not only the quality players around you, it is the fantastic manager, the staff around the club.
‘I would like to thank my friends and family as well, they have been there from the beginning in my career – thank you to Henrita, my wife. We made this adventure together and have four beautiful children who were all born in England.
Two maestros: Bergkamp met with rested midfielder Mesut Ozil after his statue was unveiled
Immortalised: Dennis Bergkamp (R) watches as a statue of himself is unveiled at the Emirates
Dutch master: Bergkamp greets the crowd and admitted Arsenal didn’t need to ask him to build the statue
‘Sign him up!’: Arsenal fans were out in force to see the statue of Bergkamp being unveiled
‘Last but not least, I had a very good relationship with the fans. You were very patient with me.
‘In the first six or seven games of my career, a lot of people spoke about that, is he good or not? Can he do it? We had some comments from chairmen of other clubs in London, I won’t mention the name!
‘We proved them all wrong and are where we are now, and it is all down to the fans because you had belief in me, in the team, so this is how it ends with a beautiful statue.’
Bergkamp has just started out on his coaching career at his boyhood club Ajax in Amsterdam, but in the long term would relish the opportunity to return to Arsenal.
He said: ‘I would, definitely. I have just started my career at Ajax as an assistant coach, being part of the Ajax philosophy, trying to get players through the system.
Under wraps: Dennis Bergkamp statue begins its journey to Arsenal’s Emirates stadium in north London
Caught in time: Bergkamp’s statue is taken from this moment of control against Newcastle in 2003
Non flying Dutchman: Bergkamp was voted second behind Thierry Henry as Arsenal fans’ greatest player
‘We just started that, so I don’t think now is the time to leave that aside and do something else, but in the future I would love to come to this country, to this league and this club especially.”
Bergkamp feels Wenger’s current squad can mount a serious title challenge in 2014.
He said: ‘I have been watching Arsenal for many years, and this season they are really (much) stronger than the last seasons.
‘They can challenge for the title, but the upcoming weeks are very important for them.”
Sublime: Bergkamp scores a hat-trick against Leicester – all three goals were up for MOTD’s Goal of the Month
Ken Friar, who unveiled the statue, was the Club’s managing director at the time Bergkamp signed for the club, said: ‘Arsenal Football Club is proud that this statue of Dennis Bergkamp will be on display outside Emirates Stadium.
‘Dennis contributed so much to the Club, while at the same time treating Arsenal fans to some of the most exciting football ever seen in this country.
‘This will now give Arsenal fans and visitors to the stadium an opportunity to remember this legend and pay their own tributes to this great man. This statue is immortalising a true fans’ favourite and celebrating the wonderful contribution of a simply unique footballer, whose skill and ability were an absolute joy to behold.’
Win win situation: Bergkamp was part of Arsenal’s Invincibles who went an entire season unbeaten
Feel the love: Arsenal fans gather in their thousands for Bergkamp’s testimonial at the Emirates
Dutch master: Bergkamp became one of the Premier League’s finest foreign imports after arriving from Inter
My club: Bergkamp would like to eventually return to Arsenal in a coaching role
Source : Daily Mail