116street Soccer

Footballing from a lesser authority...

Location: New York, New York

Monday, April 17, 2006

All Good Things...

At the time when we here on 116th street were first discovering this fantastic game, we weren't on 116th Street, and we definitely weren't in France, where the World Cup was being held. We were watching Saturday matches on ABC, trying to keep up with the action by consistently peeking back at our Sports Illustrated World Cup preview (props to Grant Wahl for calling France as the winner that year).
SI had tipped another guy, Clarence Seedorf, as the player to watch from the Netherlands, but once the games started there was no question that the guy to pay attention to was Dennis Bergkamp. Bergkamp led the Dutch to the semifinal that year, scoring a legendary goal against Argentina in the process, before returning to Arsenal for the 1998-99 season.
Saturday was Dennis Bergkamp Day, marking the end of an era for both Arsenal and its soon-to-be-departed stadium. Bergkamp, whose grace, elegance and skill had made him an Arsenal legend, was given a proper send-off from the Highbury faithful, and he treated them to one last masterful performance, against West Bromwich Albion. The Arsenal crowd showed up with orange T-shirts and banners to show their support for the Non-Flying Dutchman (Bergkamp's fear of planes is as world-renowned as his passing), and he came on in the 72nd minute, with the score tied at 1-1. 4 minutes after appearing, he hustled to the rebound of Robert Pires' strike, and instead of hurrying a shot on goal, he showed his usual calm, turning away from goal to deliver a pass back to Pires, who put the Gunners ahead, 2-1. It was a classic Bergkamp assist, recalling his days with the free-wheeling Arsenal sides of the late 90's.
In the 89th minute, the man often referred to as "Iceman" and "Dennis the Menace" put a storybook finish to his special day, curling a beautiful strike into the top right corner of the net. With seven games remaining in his Premier League career (he may get a few more matches if Arsenal continue to advance in the Champions League), Dennis Bergkamp showed everyone that he still has a little magic left in his boots. We here on 116th street will patiently wait for another player with his elegance, but we are likely to be disappointed.


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