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Monday, 4 March, 2002, 14:10 GMT
An artist at work
BBC Sport Online's John May does not need an art gallery to admire the works of a modern Dutch master.

Talk of great Dutch artists and the names of Rembrandt, van Gogh and Vermeer spring to mind.

But there is one Dutch artiste from the modern school who consistently produces great masterpieces.

His works are arguably more accessible and appreciated than paintings of liliies snapped up for 20m by Japanese department stores.

And as art for the masses, his works are more popular than paintings of burgermeisters in big hats with lamps with pikes.

Deft touch

If Dennis Bergkamp's own form of performance art could be hung in a gallery it would rightly sit alongside the world's finest canvasses.

There have been greater goalscorers than Bergkamp, but fewer scorers of great goals.

Jimmy Greaves, Gerd Muller, Ian Rush and even Gary Lineker were all penalty box predators, men who plied their trade at close range.

They scored the important bread-and-butter goals, scuffer's tap-ins from single-digit yardage.

But few of their goals were things of beauty and unlike Bergkamp's spectacular strikes tend not to linger long in the memory.

Only Bergkamp would have the ability to cushion the weight of a 60-yard pass...

The latest addition to the Bergkamp catalogue against Newcastle only served to underline the theory that he does not score mediocre goals.

A deft touch, a sharp turn and an incedible spatial awareness and appreciation of where he, defenders and the goal are has become his trademark.

As Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said: "If you were to put together all the goals Dennis has scored in his career it would look fantastic because he's scored only great goals, and a lot of them."

But even in such an extensive catalogue, there are some that stand out.

There was the sumptuous double drag-back and precise chip at Sunderland; a mazy dribble ending with a laser-guided shot against Southampton; and the fantastic goal for Holland against Argentina in the France 98 World Cup.

...turn inside a defender and curl the ball round the goalkeeper

Perhaps only Bergkamp among current players possessed all the components needed to cushion the weight of a 60-yard pass, apply the brakes and flick the ball inside the defender, and then curl the ball impudently round the keeper with the outside of his right foot.

For connoisseurs of football art, the good news is that Bergkamp is undergoing a revival.

Wenger's declaration at the start of the season that he would rotate his five strikers meant Bergkamp was not a regular starter.

In fact, he appeared to be some way down the pecking order, behind Thierry Henry, Sylvain Wiltord and Kanu, while the 8m signing of Francis Jeffers hinted that Wenger was keen to bring in younger blood.

Restored appetite

As he failed to make the starting line-up for Arsenal two opening Premiership matches, Bergkamp was even forced to deny reports he was unhappy at Arsenal.

But as the season has progressed, Bergkamp has gone from strength to strength.

His appetite has been restored, and his technique is in as good shape as ever it was.

And unlike that other scorer of great goals Southampton's Matthew Le Tissier, Bergkamp looks good to continue for at least couple of years to come.

He may produce works of great art, but Dennis Bergkamp is not quite ready for the museum just yet.

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04 Mar 02 | Eng Prem
04 Mar 02 | Europe
04 Mar 02 | Eng Prem
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