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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 May, 2005, 11:48 GMT 12:48 UK
Walking in a Bergkamp wonderland
By Ian Hughes

Dennis Bergkamp
Dennis Bergkamp wants one more season at Arsenal and he may just have clinched a new deal after a virtuoso performance in the win over Everton.

It would extend to 10 years Bergkamp's stay at Highbury, where he has produced sublime performances and led Arsenal into a new era.

BBC Sport spoke to former Gunners and England coach Don Howe to get his thoughts on the Dutch master.

ABILITY AND ATTITUDE

Dennis is gifted.

His vision and passing technique are superb.

And in that position just behind the centre-forward, Dennis has the ability to play people in.

He has the freedom to pick up the ball, and any player making a run knows they have almost 100% chance of Dennis finding them.

For a manager or a coach, he is the easiest man to work with, from his application in training every day to his acceptance of new ideas and tactics.

Around the club and in the dressing room he is just one of the lads and he doesn't want anything special.

Dennis is a down-to-earth character and doesn't walk around with a huge ego.

But if people take liberties with him - on and off the pitch - he will come back at you hard.

He's had his name taken a few times and does have that 'you kick me, I'll kick you back' mentality. But you need that at the top level.

You have to be able to compete and you have to have aggression and when Dennis needs it, he has it. And he lets his opponents know it, too.

A FREE SPIRIT

The one criticism of Dennis, if there is one, is that he maybe never got in to the box enough.

And he ought to have scored more goals than he has.

If he could have added that drive to get on the end of something in the box, he would have been the best in the world.

But Dennis enjoys being free.

He is responsible, but he wants to be able to express himself and make his own decisions on the pitch.

You can't force him to be in certain areas of the pitch at certain times.

And that's probably why he didn't quite make it in Italy, when he was at Inter Milan.

He was tied down, tactically. It restricted him and he didn't enjoy it.

I remember he spoke to the kids at Arsenal one day and they asked him about Italy. Dennis said it was too regimented.

INSPIRATIONAL

Dennis is highly influential at Arsenal and you can see that in the way he has helped Robin van Persie recently.

Not long ago Van Persie was a bit 'lively' and he played as if he wanted to beat every man on the pitch.

But I think he looked at Dennis and has seen that if a great like Dennis plays the ball early and does what the manager wants, he really has to as well.

Dennis, I'm sure, guided him on his way.

I've been in football all my life and have seen some wonderful players.

But when I've been at Highbury and I've known Dennis Bergkamp was going to play, I couldn't wait for the match to start.

I knew I would see a wonderful player who would entertain me and lift me off my seat.

He is the top man.


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