As part of one of the most successful Arsenal sides in history, Dennis Bergkamp is qualified to talk about the type of personalities needed for such success.
Signed by Bruce Rioch in 1995, the Dutchman became one of the most popular figures at Highbury during his time there, but he’s revealed that before he got to know Rioch’s replacement, Arsene Wenger, he’d had some doubts.
It seems odd to think of a time where Wenger wasn’t well-known, but that’s exactly the scenario that greeted the urbane Frenchman upon his unveiling. The ‘Arsene who?’ newspaper headlines at the time set the tone.
Perhaps with that in mind, Bergkamp wasn’t sure what to expect, but his mind was soon put at rest.
“There was a certain period between the moment he (Rioch) was let go until Arsene came – I think it was a few months – which was an insecure time for me because I was remembering the lies from Italy again,” he said to the official Arsenal ‘In lockdown’ podcast.
“I was thinking, ‘OK, wait a minute, what’s going to happen now?’
“There were some doubts in my mind but they were soon taken away when Arsene came in because he was the one who had a philosophy that suited my philosophy, it was the same.
“His philosophy suited my game and therefore there were no doubts once he took over. There was a good understanding and from day one we knew what we expected from each other and that’s why it worked.”
Both master and servant went on to shape the Gunners’ sides of that era, the likes of which haven’t been seen in the red and white half of North London since.