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Friday, 30 June, 2000, 09:16 GMT 10:16 UK
Wenger pays tribute to Bergkamp
Dennis Bergkamp
Wenger feels Arsenal can benefit as Bergkamp quits
Arsene Wenger gives BBC Sport Online Euro 2000 correspondent Pete Lansley his views on Dennis Bergkamp and French prospects in the final.

Arsene Wenger has hailed Dennis Bergkamp's decision to quit international football following Holland's Euro 2000 exit against Italy.

The Arsenal manager hopes Bergkamp's retirement from the international stage, ironically at the home of Ajax, where his skills were honed as a teenager, will not douse his fire at club level.

But Wenger is convinced his proteges from north London - Manu Petit, Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira - can enable France to beat Holland's conquerors Italy in the final in Rotterdam.

Similarly, Bergkamp and Holland lost on penalties in the World Cup semi-final two years ago to Brazil who were then beaten in the final by France.

Bergkamp, 31, was spared the sudden-death agony of penalties on Thursday night as he had been substituted within the 90 minutes during which Frank De Boer and Patrick Kluivert both spurned penalties.

"I was surprised Dennis was withdrawn as extra-time approached but they chose to put some fresh blood in and because he is a bit older, they took him off," said Wenger.

"It is very sad he finishes his [international] career tonight but they missed two penalties in the regular game so you could see they would be punished.

"I don't think Dennis would have taken a penalty whatever.

"He has been a huge servant for Holland. I hope it is a bonus for Arsenal that he will not play for Holland any more but I hope it doesn't kill his hunger.

"I don't think it will because Dennis is a perfectionist and tries to play his best in every game.

"I just wish such a huge talent could have won something with his country but that does not diminish his merit."

While Bergkamp struck a first-half shot against the post, his club colleague Marc Overmars was unable to reproduce his best form playing out of position on the right wing, up against Italy's captain Paolo Maldini.

"Tonight Overmars showed he is much better on the left wing than the right," said his Arsenal manager, who thought Holland were lacking variation in their attacking movement.

I think France will win and should win but a final is a final, Italy is Italy

Arsene Wenger

"Trying to get him to go wide on the outside past Maldini was a handicap for Holland."

Wenger envisages his compatriots becoming the first country to follow World Cup success with a European Championships triumph.

"I think France will win and should win but a final is a final, Italy is Italy.

"You have seen tonight they don't give free-kicks away [in goalscoring positions], they use discipline in their game and though they don't seem to do a lot, every time they go forward they are dangerous.

"France against Holland would have been the perfect final, the home team against the world champions, but football is like that. And Italy is always a difficult opponent for France."

Wenger has watched Euro 2000 throughout and been impressed by the high level of quality football and technical expertise.

But he dismisses the notion that England, knocked out in the first round, need someone with his continental experience to help them through a difficult current period.

"I think that's not the right solution for England," said Wenger, who has been linked with such a position.

"They have to be realistic. At the moment, England needs patience, work - and not to talk too much.

"Also, they do not need to change managers too much either because players know, like I know, it is not the solution to change the manager every six months."

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