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Dennis Bergkamp debuted on this day in 1986 and it's worth remembering the Dutch icon's greatest ever strike.
July 4 1998. Holland are facing Argentina with a World Cup semi-final spot on the line. The sun is beating down upon the Stade Velodrome in Marseille. A tense game is locked at 1-1 with extra-time looming and both sides have had a man sent off.
But there was one player, dubbed 'iceman', who kept his cool and created history. A 29-year-old striker called Dennis Bergkamp stepped up to score probably his greatest ever goal, and one of the most famous strikes ever in a World Cup.
The game had entered the 90th minute and Dutch defender Frank de Boer launched a speculative ball into the Argentina half. In most instances, the frontman would fail to control the long pass and possession would change hands. Not Bergkamp, though.
The Arsenal striker leaped into the air to control the ball beautifully on his right foot, deftly flicked it inside Roberto Ayala then rifled it past helpless goalkeeper Carlos Roa with the outside of his boot. Time seemed to stand still for Bergkamp. The actual time? 2.51 seconds for three sublime touches. A level of precision that high should be impossible in such a short period of time, but Bergkamp did it. Give the stage, given the moment, given the opposition and given the skill level, this would go down as one of the greatest ever World Cup goals.
The 29-year-old wheeled away in calm celebration but ultimately collapsed to the floor in joy. Not even Bergkamp with his ice cold persona could keep his cool after this strike. 'DENNIS BERGKAMP, DENNIS BERGKAMP', Dutch commentators echoed as they tried to describe what they'd just seen. When the full-time whistle blew, everyone watching attempted to come up with ways to describe his genius. Ruud Gullit chimed in with 'perfect'.
Bergkamp himself, a stickler for flawlessness even conceded 'the moment itself was, I think, perfect."
He told FourFourTwo back in 2011: "I am quite focused. And I don't show my emotions to everyone - only people I work with and family. I was never nervous. I always tried to stay at one level: the good things weren't that good, and the bad things weren't that bad."
His emotions were on show for all to see in those split seconds. The great enigma of this game is that aside from laying on the assist for Patrick Kluivert and scoring his goal, Bergkamp was rather anonymous. Not a bad way to leave a mark, but he'd built a career on being enigmatic.
On December 14 in 1986, Ajax faced Roda JC in a seemingly uneventful game and Johan Cruyff took a gamble on an unknown 17-year-old. Little did he know that the young forward named Bergkamp would go on to be one of his generation's greatest talents.
Bergkamp managed to stand out on the pitch by making the simply brilliant look brilliantly simple. He once said that he focuses more on his control and passing over tricks because 'art for art's sake isn't interesting'. Arsenal fans had become accustomed to these moments of brilliance. Bergkamp had been in North London for three years and helped his side to a Premiership and FA Cup double the prior season while scoring sublime goals along the way.
Forget his failed spell at Inter Milan, Bergkamp went down as an Ajax, Arsenal and Dutch legend.
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