Today marks the 51st birthday of one of the most breathtaking players of a generation. Dennis Bergkamp was not just a great scorer of goals, but a scorer of great goals. His career is spotted with some fantastic goals that some players could only wish for in their career.
To mark the birthday of a true legend of the game here's my five favourite DB10 Arsenal goals.
1 - Arsenal v Bayer Leverkusen 27/02/02
A Champions League Group stage match where DB managed to find space in the smallest of gaps. Arsenal were already running rampant against the eventual finalists Leverkusen when Gooner Fanzine favourite Lee Dixon shifts the ball up pitch to Sylvain Wiltord. On the edge of the pitch, Wiltord cuts inside and passes the ball at speed to DB. DB somehow manages to control the ball with his trailing left leg whilst being surrounded by four defenders, he then runs away from goal before quickly spinning the Brazilian defender Lucio the wrong way and dragging the ball back in a slow and deliberate dribble before leaning back and chipping the ball slowly over the last line of defence and a leaping Hans-Jorg Butt. With the words from the commentator "Just wonderful, that is fantastic..."
2 - Arsenal v Spurs 24/11/96
No list of goals would be complete without a goal against our noisy neighbours and this DB goal is definitely one of his finest and most fondly remembered. Everyone's favourite number 8 Ian Wright manages to wiggle free of a determined Spurs defender before crossing the ball across the box to an expectant DB. Standing the on the left hand side of goal with a defender in his path DB deftly flicks the ball behind him with his left foot and changes his direction and momentum instantly lining up his deadly right foot with the ball. The spurs defender attempts to drag DB down before he can unleash a shot at the goal of Ian Walker, but the ball rockets past the keeper and ripples the net to the soundtrack of a thunderous Highbury in a memorable 3-1 victory.
3 - Leicester v Arsenal 27/08/97
The quote from the commentator "There aren't many players in the game who can do this and make it look so ridiculously simple"is a perfect description of this goal. A corner from Overmars is rolled to the corner of the box with a waiting DB miraculously in space with no defenders near him. He then leisurely puts the ball on to his right foot and winds up to hit a shot in the top right of the net completely bypassing the entire Leicester squad. The joy in this goal being the ease, the lofted ball that moves at a speed you can't quite understand; how did he manage to whip it in with such simplicity? Why on earth did Leicester not mark him?
4 - Newcastle v Arsenal 02/03/02
This goal is famous with Arsenal fans and non-Arsenal fans alike. So absurd and fantastic that it is often argued by many that it was luck, an unintentional move that happened to work out. However you view it, it is breathtaking. Robert Pires managed to find space in the middle of the park to bounce the ball up the field to the feet of an awaiting Bergkamp. Arms outstretched, leaning backwards and with defenders just behind him, Dennis nudges the ball with the most imperceptible of flicks sending the ball to his right and flinging himself to his left, the defender left completely unawares as Dennis and the ball spin around in to the box. The ball loses pace as Dennis rounds the defender to get the ball on to his right, getting himself between the defence and the ball before knocking in a goal past the dumfounded Shay Given. This goal is astonishing and no doubt will be talked about for a long time - but the last on this list is truly a spectacular piece of skill.
5 - Leicester v Arsenal 27/08/97
Yes, there are two goals from the same match in this list. This goal being his third of the match to complete a truly staggering hat trick. Dennis himself declaring it to the best of his career. It was also the goal that won the MOTD 'Goal of the Month' competition in which the other two goals were also his. An achievement that had never happened before and has not since. The ball was neatly launched in to the box by David Platt over the head of DB who was making a darting run with a defender on his right shoulder. He lifts the ball with his right foot, then kicks it up and around the defender with his left, now free of the defender he rolls it with his left on to his right, the move up until that point was astonishing, but the little stab to complete the goal is just exhilarating, he somehow finds space and composure to finish the move. This goal more than any is how I remember the Dutchman, cool, calm, collected, composed and utterly lethal.
There are of course many more goals in a career that spanned 10 years and 120 goals in 423 games for Arsenal, but these are the five that I choose to watch every May 10th on the birthday of a true legend and Gooner.
Arsenal supporter Serge is production editor, presenter and panellist with GoonerFanzineTV. You can also find him at Golazio sports bar. Follow him on Twitter