Firstly, I make no apology for my obsession with Dennis Bergkamp. The Dutchman was one of the finest players to grace the Arsenal shirt, with his brand of dreamy, exhilarating and exquisite football which underlined his undeniable and obvious brilliance.
Many wanted him to score more goals than the 87 Premier League goals in 315 appearances, but anyone can tap a ball into an open net or glance a ball into a corner. They weren’t the type of goals that the Arsenal number 10 specialised in, because above all else, Dennis Bergkamp was a craftsman as well as a creator. Someone who’s style and quality could construct goals of beauty and class.
When he scored, it was special, like a collector’s item that was placed in a vault of with other marvelous strikes. No doubt, you have your favourite Bergkamp Arsenal goal or at an international level, but his hat trick against Leicester City in 1997 is right up there.
How good was it? All three made the top three of MOTD’s Goal of the Month, something that had never happened in the 47-year history of the program. Bergkamp himself has elevated the third above his spectacular 2002 wonder goal against Newcastle United and Arsene Wenger deemed it to be “The best of his career”, but that was before the mugging of Dabizas at St James’ Park.
Filbert Street in August is hardly paradise but something sensational was due to unfold, especially in the 90th minute with three goals finding the net in a thrilling 3-3 draw.
The greatest @PremierLeague hat-trick of all-time? ?
? #OnThisDay, 21 years ago…
Dennis Bergkamp doing Dennis Bergkamp things ? pic.twitter.com/3rCbxyCSD9
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) August 27, 2018
I’ll look at the goals individually, but Arsenal seemed to be cruising after Dennis Bergkamp scored goals in the 9th and 61st minute, then Leicester replied in the 84th minute with a goal from Emile Heskey.
Then all hell broke loose in the 90th, with a veritable goal-fest that included goals from Walsh and Elliot for Leicester City and that classic Dennis Bergkamp goal.
9th Minute: Marc Overmars nonchalantly knocked a corner kick to Bergkamp, who was outside the box on the left. He took one touch with his right foot to give him the angle and delivered the sweetest curl to take the ball underneath the bar and into the top right of the Leicester City net. Goalkeeper Kasey Keller appeared rooted to the spot, a motionless bystander to a magnificent strike.
61st Minute: Leicester City had been piling on the pressure in search of an equaliser when Patrick Vieira broke away on the right-wing. He delivered an inch-perfect pass into the path of the advancing Bergkamp, Keller advanced as the Dutchman took aim and the ball span off Keller’s open body into the open net.
90th Minute: David Platt provided a delightful diagonal ball to the Arsenal number 10 which he controlled superbly with his right foot. He took an obligatory touch with his left to leave Matt Elliott stranded and bemused. A small steadying touch with the left and then the killer right foot shot past Keller.
It was a goal to grace any match, although it wasn’t enough to gain all three points but that didn’t seem to matter. Fans had witnessed another special Dennis Bergkamp performance and three goals of the highest quality.
Somewhat modestly, Bergkamp made the goals sound ordinary:
“When I look back on the Leicester match, it was a typical English game with the crowd close to the pitch. At that time I started to feel really comfortable in the team. So I had the confidence to do well and yeah, I just took my chances, which I always did in my career.”
I don’t think I’ve seen a more complete hat trick in the Premier League, with three contrasting examples that required poise, speed of thought and precise execution. All of them delivered in typical Bergkamp style.