Originally posted on Goonersphere
At the peak of their powers, the Beatles proclaimed themselves to be ‘bigger than Jesus.’ This sparked a huge rebuke from the media, and the words resonated so loudly, that parodies of this comment are still prevalent today.
Were they wrong though?
The sheer arrogance of such a statement is hard to stomach, but in terms of cold fact, the fanbase they had accrued was truly global, and on a par with the numbers that followed Christianity at the time. They dominated TV sets and record players everywhere, and the impact they made is still yet to be matched now.
Some subjects though, are sacrosanct. To speak ill of such things is akin to assault for some, and any who cross this fabled line will feel the full force of its followers.
In football, it is just the same. Some players, passed and still with us, carry the burden of the game on their shoulders. Memories they forged themselves are held up as shining examples of how to play the game the right way, and their moments of inspiration are like an instruction manual, used to show those who seek the knowledge the correct manner of the sport.
In short, they and their talents are the stained glass images that adorn our holy house of football. The merest mention of their names is enough to induce misty eyes and nostalgic conversations. They are the flag-bearers for the sport, and the anti-thesis for today’s game.
The plethora of primadonnas, scandals and money in football is the exact opposite of these footballing deities, and they will forever be used as an example of how modern day football pales into comparison.
Dennis Bergkamp is one of these men – at least he certainly is for us Gooners. He is perhaps the most talented player we have ever had, and in his tenure with us from 1995 to 2006, he created and scored goals that were hewn straight from heavens football pitch.
His vision, his touch, his awareness, is unrivalled. His love for the club though, really cemented the bond between player and fan. So what I am about to declare next may upset some.
Bergkamp is probably our greatest ever player. If Mesut Ozil extends his contract and stays, then he has the capacity to sit alongside the Dutchman.
Mesut Ozil has besotted us from the first moment he was declared a Gunner, during that crazy Transfer Deadline Day back in 2013. His first season, although slightly underwhelming, was flecked with the signature genius we all adore. It was last season that he truly broke the threshold from fan favourite to hope carrier though.
His bagful of assists exhibited a vision, awareness and touch that hadn’t been seen for some time. The similarities are there for all to see, but we choose to ignore them. He can’t hold a candle to Bergkamp!
At this moment in time, his Arsenal career is in the shadow of Dennis’s, and he has a long way to even come close to matching it. Three Premier League trophies, four FA Cups, and memories that ought to be pinned, framed, and put in a museum make him the poster boy for Arsenal. Mesut Ozil can only boast of two FA Cups, but if he can get his hands on the league title, and stay until his new contract ends – then what is stopping him being held in the same regard?
We all know of Ozil’s talents. Playing in the spotlight of a million cameras allows his every movement to be documented, and then streamed to every hungry eye that demands it. It also means that every sumptuous touch is seen and registered in our minds.
His talent is truly unique, and is unreplicated amongst his fellow world-class players across Europe and South America. If Dennis were playing today – the two would be mercilessly compared, and stats documenting every facet of their play would be scrutinised.
They are twins that were born separately, and look nothing alike. They are twins in a footballing sense.
A selfless nature on the pitch. The eye for a pass that no one else can see. The positioning that means they can have the biggest impact on their teams attack. Most importantly, that touch that seems as though their foot was wrapped in velvet.
They share footballing DNA. The reason that Dennis towers above Mesut when looking at fans observation, is that he was the cornerstone of a golden era. Wenger built his side around he and Henry. Bergkamp represents a watershed moment in the history of our club. Like it or not, before Bruce Rioch brought in the Dutchman, our club was treading water. Filled with talent, but no motivation, our squad was going through the motions, but Bergkamp joined, and his approach to the game, to training, to everything he did, inspired his teammates.
Ian Wright, when asked about Bergkamp, always states that he tried to copy Bergkamp in everything he did for his approach to the match.
When Mesut joined, that was a watershed moment of sorts too. His capture was the tangible instant when we all finally realised that we could now be the club that we were aiming for . After so many years being shackled by debt and low expectations – we could dream again.
Bergkamp didn’t influence every minute of every game, but he had the capacity to change games with one nonchalant flick – just like Ozil.
Like it or not, if Mesut Ozil sees out his rumoured contract extension, and we win some trophies, then we could very well see another bronze statue outside The Emirates – to tribute the most talented footballer we have ever seen in our jersey alongside the Iceman.