Saturday, June 20, 2009

20 June 1995 - The Non-Flying Dutchman Lands In London

On 20 June 1995, Arsenal signed Dutch striker Dennis Bergkamp from Inter for a fee of £7.5 million.

Nicknamed "the Non-Flying Dutchman" due to his fear of flying, Bergkamp was a product of the Ajax youth academy and played for the Amsterdam senior side from 1986 to 1993, helping them to the Eredivisie title (1989-90), the KNVB Cup (1987, 1993), the European Cup Winners Cup (1987), and the UEFA Cup (1992). In total, he scored 122 goals in 239 matches for Ajax and was voted Eredivisie Player of the Year in 1992 and 1993.

In 1993, he was signed by Inter for £12 million. He helped them win the UEFA Cup in 1994, but never settled in with the team or the Italian style of play. Over his two seasons in Milan, he scored only 10 goals in 50 appearances before being being signed by Arsenal manager Bruce Rioch in the summer of 1995. Inter president Massimo Moratti, unhappy with the £4.5 million loss, reportedly claimed "They will be lucky if he scores 10 goals this season."

And indeed Bergkamp's Arsenal career started slowly. He made his debut on 19 August 1995 against Middlesbrough, but did not score until his seventh match. He finished the season with 16 goals in 43 appearances. His Arsenal career truly began to flourish, however, with the arrival of manager Arsène Wenger in September 1996 and he was a key member of the Invincibles, Arsenal's unbeaten league side of 2003-04.

In all, Bergkamp made 411 appearances for the Gunners, scoring 120 goals. With Bergkamp, Arsenal won three Premier League titles (1998, 2002, 2004) and four FA Cup trophies (1998, 2002, 2003, 2005). He retired from playing after the 2005-06 season.

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