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Last Updated: Friday, 21 July 2006, 07:03 GMT 08:03 UK
Dixon on Bergkamp

Lee Dixon
By Lee Dixon
Arsenal defender 1988-2002

During my time at Arsenal I was lucky to play alongside fantastic players like Tony Adams, Thierry Henry and Ian Wright. But Dennis Bergkamp topped the lot.

Along with Gianfranco Zola, he is the best foreign player in the history of the Premier League.

It was an absolute pleasure to be in the same team as Dennis. He could pick out passes that no-one else would see and make things happen in even the tightest of games.

If he had the ball and I made a good overlapping run from right-back, I could guarantee he would find me.

At his prime, Dennis was the focal point of every Arsenal team he played in, and I think his arrival at Highbury was the catalyst for the massive success we went on to enjoy under Arsene Wenger.

Lee Dixon and Dennis Bergkamp
Dennis was a major figure in the Arsenal dressing room

Lee Dixon
I remember I was on holiday when I first heard the news that we'd signed him from Inter Milan, and I couldn't quite believe it.

We weren't used to signing world-class players in those days and his arrival injected a huge amount of belief into the squad.

Although he took a while to score his first goal for the club, his influence was immediate.

Dennis helped change the way we played and his arrival elevated our ambition. We thought, "If we've got a player like this, we must be a decent side."

I've talked about the impact Dennis made on the pitch, but he was also a major figure in the Arsenal dressing room.

This might surprise some people, because he is a very private man who rarely gives interviews.

But, aided by his excellent command of English, he quickly became part of our dressing-room banter and was never afraid to venture his opinions.

We even used to joke that he wished he was born in England. On away trips, the English players sat at the back of the team coach and the French players at the front.

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Needless to say, there was a lot of banter between the two groups.

Dennis would always sit with the English lads - me, Tony Adams, Nigel Winterburn, David Seaman and Ray Parlour - and join in with the jokes and wind-ups.

Looking back, the only thing that counts against him was not being in the team for overseas games.

We really suffered when he wasn't in the side for those European away matches. No-one else could play like he did, because Dennis is a one-off, and we had to change the way we approached those matches.

But that shouldn't detract from the fact that Dennis had been a truly great player during his 11 years in the English game and I'm proud to be taking part in his testimonial on Saturday.



SEE ALSO
Rioch pays tribute to Bergkamp
21 Jul 06 |  Arsenal
Bergkamp career gallery
18 May 06 |  Photo Galleries


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