Arsenal ‘Invincible’ Dennis Bergkamp becomes the latest name to be inducted into Premier League Hall of Fame via public and panel vote earlier today.
Bergkamp becomes the sixth player to be inducted in Premier Leagues Hall of Fame, with Alan Shearer, Thierry Henry, Eric Cantona, Roy Keane and Chelsea’s all-time leading goalscorer Frank Lampard already inducted in the batch of 2021.
Bergkamp was part of the unbeaten Arsenal squad of 2003-04, dubbed as the “Invincibles”
Dutchman Bergkamp joined Arsenal in 1995 from Inter Milan and was part of three title-winning squads, including the unbeaten 2003-04 campaign, which saw the Gunners team dubbed ‘The Invincibles’.
Bergkamp’s arrival at Highbury from Inter Milan in 1995 kickstarted a transformation of English football’s top division, with his outstanding technical ability and skill providing the benchmark for the rest of the league. The high-flying Dutchman scored 87 goals and provided 94 assists over 315 top flight appearances for the Gunners, helping guide the north Londoners to three Premier League titles before his retirement in 2006.
“It feels special to be part of a small group of players who got the recognition of playing in the strongest league in the world,” Bergkamp told the Premier League’s official website . “I’m honoured.”
“I’m extremely proud if people say that I was one of the first foreign players who added something to the English game.”
“The Premier League most definitely made me a better player. From the moment I arrived in England I’ve embraced the English mentality and passion for football, it suited me and my style of play.” “Playing every game against good and tough opponents meant I improved all the time. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.”
When asked for the greatest Premier League game he was involved in, Bergkamp reached for a win over Leicester on the last day of the 2003-04 campaign to seal Arsenal’s Invincible season.
“Looking back there have been a lot of great matches,” he said. “If I had to pick one out, it would have to be the last game in the 2003/04 season. Beating Leicester meant we had gone the whole season unbeaten in the Premier League. An unbelievable achievement and I am proud to have been part of it.”
The Dutch international was the scorer of one of the Premier League’s greatest ever goals, when he executed a magnificent turn and finish against Newcastle United in 2002 which was voted by fans as the best goal in the Premier League’s first 25 years in 2017.
However, Bergkamp rates his goal to clinch a hat-trick against Leicester in 1997 – the first Premier League hat-trick scored by a Dutchman – higher than the St James’ Park strike.
‘A lot of people would pick my goal against Newcastle [United, in March 2002],’ the Arsenal legend added. ‘However, my favourite is the third goal of my hat-trick against Leicester [City] in 1997.
‘The run, control, touch and finish all needed to be done at high quality and pace. It was a goal where every move went how I’d planned it in my head.’
The Premier League Hall of Fame “recognises and honours former players who have an exceptional record of on-pitch success and have shown significant contribution to the League since its inception in 1992” and in order to be eligible for induction, players must have been retired by August 1, 2020. A further two players will be revealed on Thursday from a shortlist of PL greats Tony Adams, David Beckham, Sol Campbell, Andrew Cole, Ashley Cole, Didier Drogba, Les Ferdinand, Rio Ferdinand, Robbie Fowler, Steven Gerrard, Matt Le Tissier, Michael Owen, Peter Schmeichel, Paul Scholes, John Terry, Robin van Persie, Nemanja Vidic, Patrick Vieira and Ian Wright.