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EURO 2000 spotlight How brilliant was the Netherlands' Dennis Bergkamp?

UEFA.com lauds Dennis Bergkamp, the Dutch creator-in-chief at UEFA EURO 2000.

EURO 2000 highlights: Spotlight on Dennis Bergkamp
EURO 2000 highlights: Spotlight on Dennis Bergkamp

A classy forward who was equally adept at finishing as he was creating chances for team-mates, Dennis Bergkamp was integral to the Netherlands side that came close to repeating their EURO '88 success 12 years later.

UEFA EURO 2000

• The Netherlands were co-hosts along with Belgium for the 2000 tournament, the first EURO to take place in more than one country.

Highlights: The best goals of EURO 2000
Highlights: The best goals of EURO 2000

• Frank Rijkaard – a EURO winner as a player in 1988 – took charge of a squad which blended younger talents like Patrick Kluivert and experienced campaigners such as Bergkamp, who was appearing at his third successive EURO.

• Bergkamp, by now utilised more in a deeper role, looked most likely to break the deadlock for the Oranje prior to Frank de Boer’s late penalty winner in their opening group game against 1996 runners-up Czech Republic. The Arsenal forward's shot then rebounded for Kluivert to score the opening goal in what proved a comprehensive defeat of 1992 winners Denmark.

• The Bergkamp-Kluivert combination came into its own as the tournament progressed, the pair linking up for the first Dutch equaliser in a comeback that stunned eventual champions France and clinched top spot in Group D. Bergkamp then provided two assists, including one for Kluivert, in a competition record 6-1 win against Yugoslavia in the last eight.

• However it would be more spot-kick heartbreak for Bergkamp and the Netherlands in the last four, the Dutch missing two penalties in normal time and three more in the shoot-out loss to Italy – a match which would be Bergkamp's final international cap.

What you might not know

• Bergkamp was named Dennis by his father in honour of the Scottish centre-forward Denis Law. The eldest two of three older brothers insisted upon the more common spelling.

• His favourite player as a boy was Glenn Hoddle – who represented England at two EUROs – because of "the way he plucked the ball out of the air and controlled it. Instant control. His touch was perfect."

Dennis Bergkamp pictured with Wim Jonk in 1992
Dennis Bergkamp pictured with Wim Jonk in 1992VI-Images via Getty Images

• He was given his Ajax debut by Johan Cruyff in December 1986, aged 17 years and 218 days – just two weeks older than his coach had been when he made his bow for the club in November 1964.

• A school biology exam prevented him from travelling with the Ajax squad to a European Cup Winners' Cup tie away at Malmö in March 1987, but he was still able to make a cameo appearance as a substitute after making his own way to Sweden.

• He was dubbed the 'non-flying Dutchman' after a fear of air travel meant he preferred to complete journeys by rail and car where possible.

• His famous last-gasp winner in the 1998 World Cup quarter-final against Argentina – which Bergkamp would later describe as "perfect" – meant he overtook Faas Wilkes to become the Netherlands' all-time leading scorer, a title he held until Kluivert surpassed him in 2003.

• UEFA EURO 2000 winner Thierry Henry rates Bergkamp as the best strike partner he ever played alongside, with the Dutchman returning the compliment in a later interview.

What he said

Dutch anthem: Bergkamp and Co at EURO 2000
Dutch anthem: Bergkamp and Co at EURO 2000

"We should have beaten Italy easily to get to the final. I think our game didn’t really suit France. They liked being technically better than their opponents, but we were technically better than them. We knew we were really good players, but we couldn’t take that extra step."

"Scoring goals is, of course, up there. It’s like nothing else. But for me, in the end, giving the assist got closer and closer to that feeling."

What they said

"One of the best players ever produced by the Netherlands. Had a marvellous technique and goalscoring ability, but above all great situational awareness; he always knew where his team-mates were and how to bring them into the game."
Jaap Stam, Netherlands team-mate

"An enormously talented footballer: intelligent, always drifting between the lines and with fantastic distribution. He really opened up doors."
Tony Adams, team-mate at Arsenal

"[He] played football like it was all a dream – you couldn't even imagine some of the things that he was capable of doing with a football."
Peter Schmeichel, EURO '92-winning goalkeeper

Wenger and Bergkamp in conversation
Wenger and Bergkamp in conversationArsenal FC via Getty Images

"Every single day of his career, until the last minute, he never made a pass in training without thinking about it, or without putting every part of his brain into it."
Arsène Wenger, manager at Arsenal

"An amazing player with sublime skill; comfortably the best I've played with. Not only did he score brilliant goals, but when he played, those around him scored more."
Ian Wright, team-mate at Arsenal

Final tally

International: 79 appearances, 37 goals
UEFA club competition: 94 appearances, 30 goals
Domestic competition: 640 appearances, 234 goals

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