Recently on the podcast, I had the absolute privilege of talking to football legend Alan Hudson, and he revealed that he’d been on another podcast with Ray Parlour discussing Arsenal’s best player. Hudson went for Liam Brady whilst Parlour plumped for Dennis Bergkamp, but it’s a topic that’s based on personal perspectives because the pair are undeniably the most naturally gifted and technically superior players ever to wear an Arsenal shirt.
It was all too easy for them to do what they did on a football pitch with both possessing a brain that could assess situations within a nanosecond and act accordingly. Their vision was outrageously good and their touch could be whatever was required. A subtle chip, precise pass, purposeful shot, or delightful lob plus the ability to improvise if the options changed.
Alan Hudson suddenly said, “Imagine if they were on the same side.” If only. That’s the stuff of dreams but what a dream it would have been with the talent of that kind and at that level. The comparisons are difficult to make because one was a midfielder and one a striker, but they sometimes swapped their natural positions to make things happen in a game and both would certainly be able to play in any team in the world today, such was their timeless talent.
Looking back at footage of the pair in action, you can still see touches and moves that would grace the Premier League, and the addition of Liam Brady or Dennis Bergkamp would make Manchester City or Liverpool better than they already are. No doubt. If you are judging the duo on their respective side’s success, then I suppose Bergkamp might shade it with the Invincibles’ season, but individually, they are on a par.
Brady’s final against Manchester United in 1979 was a platform for fans to marvel at his array of skills and his endless energy, forcing Arsenal to dig deep in search of a winner in the dying moments but there were so many more great examples. Brady ran United ragged that day and the sight of him dodging and gliding through a sea of red shirts with the ball stuck to his foot and with an air of superiority is still woven into the memory.
Bergkamp’s skill for me will always be summed up by two images in my mind, the first is for the Netherlands against Argentina in 1998 when he pulled down a long pass from Frank De Boer with his right foot, he cut back in on the defender and struck the ball with the outside of his right foot into the top of the net. Then there’s that stunning goal against Newcastle (2002), which I’ve spoken of many times, so I’ll spare you having to read that again.
Liam Brady or Dennis Bergkamp – who’s better? That’s a question for you based on your own memories of both if you are lucky enough to have any. If you weren’t lucky enough, go on to YouTube and see what fans are talking about.