Welcome to Part 2 of my previous post which looks at one of Dennis Bergkamp’s greatest goals.
I had asked if this goal was discussed in his book ‘Stillness and Speed; lo and behold, it was! Not only does Dennis talk about it but so do Wrighty and Henry.
Both Henry and Wright have been asked on numerous times if Bergkamp actually meant it, their replies?
“Did he mean it? Of course he fucking meant it!” – Ian Wright
“When people ask me about that goal I go: Dennis Bergkamp. And they say: Yeah, but did he mean it…? Do you think…? So I say it again: Dennis Bergkamp.” – Thierry Henry
“He’s an architect of space, so I reckon he’s done the drawings, measured everything and built it all in a split-second. And if someone says: But he couldn’t have done that flick on purpose, I say it makes no difference ‘cos the speed of thought was such that he was able to readjust and finish with aplomb.” – Ian Wright
“I was watching that game at home and my first thought was ‘What?!’ But you have players like that in history. Like Cantona was Cantona and Zizou was Zizou and Maradona was Maradona. You don’t have to comment on everything. Sometimes you just have to witness. Only Dennis can tell you what happened and I will believe him. Most of his goals he thought about before he received the ball. That’s Dennis Bergkamp.” – Thierry Henry
So we’re closer to solving the mystery as to whether or not Dennis Bergkamp meant it. What did Dennis have to say about the intention, or lack of, behind the move?
“Do I see it all in advance? Do I think: I’ll put it there, turn this way, then push? Of course not. The situation creates the move.”
You may think that solves the mystery and the answer is no, he did not mean it. It’s never that simple:
“The best players are the players who adjust to the situation they’re given in the best way. The question is always ‘how do you adjust?’ I want the pass from Pires to my feet, but it comes behind me. It’s not what I expect, so I think ‘I need another idea here.’”
“The ball came in a certain way, so I turned and twisted and did this and that.”
Come on Dennis, give us more! The conventional turn for a similar move is what Zelalem did (see previous post) but; again, this was using the inside of his left rather than outside of the same. Why?
“Of course. The pass is coming like this, but I want to go that way so the creativity in my brain goes: OK I’m going to try this… It’s the all-or-nothing part of my game. I could have gone for the safe way, control the ball and knock it back. Or maybe turn. But I know the defender is stepping in and the pace of the ball can help me. With a small touch the pace will still be there, so I can spin the ball and keep it within reach.
If my first thought is I want to control the ball, then I would never make that turn. But my first thought was I want to go to the goal and I’m going to do whatever it takes to go to the goal, no matter how the ball comes to me. Ten yards before the ball arrived I made my decision: I’m going to turn him.”
And for those of us who really like some of the nitty-gritties:
“…You know where the defender will be and that his knees will be bent a little, and that he will be standing a little wide, so he can’t turn. And he won’t expect it. The thought was: I’ll just flick the ball and see what happens. Maybe the defender blocks it, or the flick is not wide enough, or he anticipates and gets two yards in front of him. As it happened, I still wasn’t in front of him, so I had to push him off. So you need some luck as well.”
Just to elaborate on that last part of that goal, Henry offers his two cents as well:
“You know my favorite thing about that goal? The way Dennis puts his body in front of Dabizas. Dennis makes the turn and then blocks the defender, and that’s what gives him all the time in the world to finish.”
I’d like to thank my editor Dave Seager for suggesting this post; I certainly believe it adds a lot of value to what I wrote in the previous post and hope you feel the same.
Still doesn’t teach me how to replicate that move though, but then again, I’m not a master technician!
To end, I’ll part with a quote from Ian Wright on this goal:
The touch! The turn! They should slow that goal down with some classical music and put it in a museum. Yeah! And make people see that it’s a real bit of poetry in motion.