Dennis Bergkamp

Why Do People Hate Dennis Bergkamp?

Dennis Bergkamp is considered one of the greatest footballers to ever play for Arsenal and the Netherlands national team. However, despite his brilliance on the pitch, Bergkamp has had his fair share of critics and detractors over the years.

Here is an in-depth look at some of the main reasons why certain groups of football fans harbour animosity towards the Dutch legend.

Playing Style Was Viewed as Boring

One of the most common complaints about Dennis Bergkamp is that his playing style was considered boring by some football fans.

Bergkamp’s Focus on Technical Ability Over Physicality

Bergkamp was not an overly physical player. He relied more on his exquisite first touch, vision, and ability to pick out passes. For fans who prefer watching tough tackling or thunderous shooting, Bergkamp’s graceful playing style did not appeal to them.

Perception He Did Not Score Enough Goals

While Bergkamp was capable of scoring sublime goals, he was not viewed as a prolific goalscorer. The fact he only exceeded 20 goals in a season twice in his career added to the perception his style was more boring compared to an out-and-out striker.

Tendency to Drift in and Out of Matches

Bergkamp would regularly drift in and out of matches. When not directly involved, he could appear disinterested, casually strolling around the pitch. For fans demanding non-stop action, Bergkamp’s intermittent spells of magic were not enough.

Comparing Bergkamp’s Goalscoring to Other Strikers

PlayerGoals Per Game
Dennis Bergkamp0.39
Alan Shearer0.59
Thierry Henry0.68
Ruud van Nistelrooy0.60

This table illustrates that while a great player, Bergkamp did not score goals at the rate of other top strikers of his era in the Premier League.

Fear of Flying Limited His Availability

Another reason some Arsenal fans disliked Bergkamp was that his well-known fear of flying restricted his availability for away matches.

Would Miss Key Away Games Each Season

Bergkamp would routinely miss out on playing in Arsenal’s away games in Europe due to his unwillingness to fly. Arsenal supporters felt this fear of flying let the team down.

Perception He Was Not Fully Committed

His absences created the perception that Bergkamp was not fully committed to the club and could pick and choose when to make himself available.

Forced Team to Travel by Bus or Train

In seasons when Arsenal went deep in European competitions, his phobia meant the entire squad would have to travel by bus or train. This disrupted preparations and was deeply frustrating for some fans.

Estimate He Missed Over 50 Away Fixtures

It is estimated that Dennis Bergkamp missed over 50 away fixtures for Arsenal in Europe due to his fear of flying. For a player of his caliber, these are games the team desperately could have used him in.

Lack of Passion and Leadership Was Criticized

Bergkamp’s laidback persona and lack of overt passion on the pitch did not sit well with some supporters and pundits.

Did Not Demonstrate Fiery Passion

He did not demonstrate the fiery, vocal passion fans expect from their star players. Bergkamp preferred to lead by example through his skills, rather than motivationally.

Often Criticized for His Body Language

Bergkamp’s poor body language, such as slumped shoulders and arms aloft, portrayed disinterest to critics. This gave the impression he did not care enough.

Did Not Show Emotion When Substituted or Lose His Temper

He would never lose his temper or display emotion if substituted, leading to criticism he accepted failure too readily. Fans expect their idols to show more personal disappointment.

Too Nice to be a Captain

Bergkamp was handed the Arsenal captaincy in the late 90s but it was apparent he was too nice to captain properly. His mentorship was valued but he was not captain material.

The Perception He Was Arrogant and Aloof

For some, Bergkamp’s reserved personality came across as aloofness or even arrogance. This perception fostered resentment among certain detractors.

Kept Himself Out of the Spotlight

Unlike fellow superstars like David Beckham, Bergkamp actively avoided the media spotlight and rarely gave interviews. This gave the impression he felt he was above publicity.

Did Not Celebrate Goals Ostentatiously

Bergkamp would rarely celebrate his goals with overt passion. While admirable to some, it seemed like a sign of arrogance as if scoring was routine to him.

Preferred Own Company to Team Bonding

He was infamous for preferring his own company and spending time alone reading rather than taking part in team bonding activities. This fed the belief he was arrogant.

Saw Himself as an Artist Above Other Players

There was a sense that Bergkamp saw himself as an artist or craftsman, looking down on those who played the game in a simpler, more physical style.

Played for Arsenal’s Biggest Rivals

Prior to joining Arsenal, Bergkamp spent two seasons playing for their arch-rivals Tottenham Hotspur. This automatically made him disliked by a section of Arsenal fans.

Spurs Fans Felt Betrayed When He Joined Arsenal

Tottenham fans felt betrayed when Bergkamp crossed the north London divide to join Arsenal in 1995. They saw it as the ultimate betrayal.

Struggled Initially at Arsenal Leading to Doubts

Bergkamp’s early struggles after joining Arsenal saw some fans question his signing and claim he was simply past his best.

Took Time to Win Over Sceptical Arsenal Fans

It took time for Bergkamp to win over sceptical Arsenal supporters who had seen him play against them for Spurs previously.

Perception He Was a ‘Mercenary’

There was a feeling by some that Bergkamp was simply a mercenary playing for whoever paid him most, lacking loyalty to any one club.

Ended His International Career Prematurely

Bergkamp’s decision to retire from international football after Euro 2000 at just 31 years old angered Dutch fans who felt he was turning his back on his country.

Retired After Netherlands Reached Euro 2000 Semis

Bergkamp chose to retire while still one of the best Dutch players after they reached the Euro 2000 semi-finals. Fans felt he should have played on.

Netherlands Failed to Qualify for 2002 World Cup

The Dutch team failed to qualify for the 2002 World Cup, missing out on Bergkamp’s genius in a major tournament.

Perception He Put Club Before Country

There was a widespread perception that Bergkamp selfishly put his club career with Arsenal before representing his national team.

Saw Van Nistelrooy as Main Reason for Retirement

Bergkamp never admitted it but some believe his rivalry with Van Nistelrooy was the main reason he quit Netherlands duty when he did.


In summary, Dennis Bergkamp was disliked by some football fans over the years for a variety of reasons. His reserved personality and playing style rubbed certain supporters the wrong way. His fear of flying and spell at Tottenham also fueled animosity in sections of Arsenal and Dutch fans.

However, no one can doubt Bergkamp’s imprint on football as one of the most elegant and visionary playmakers the game has seen. The ‘Non-Flying Dutchman’ revolutionized the position of second striker and his phenomenal technique lives long in the memory. For every football fan who dislikes Bergkamp, many more absolutely adore him for his skill, class and integrity.

FAQs about Why People Dislike Dennis Bergkamp

What made Dennis Bergkamp’s playing style boring to some fans?

Three main factors: his focus on technical ability over physicality, his tendency to drift in and out of matches, and the perception he did not score enough goals compared to out-and-out strikers.

How many away games did Bergkamp miss for Arsenal due to his fear of flying?

It is estimated that Bergkamp missed over 50 away fixtures for Arsenal in Europe during his 11 years at the club due to his aviophobia.

Why did Bergkamp’s lack of overt passion annoy certain fans and pundits?

Critics felt Bergkamp did not demonstrate stereotypical leadership qualities like visible passion or temper. His poor body language and calm acceptance of being substituted particularly drew ire.

What made some people consider Bergkamp arrogant and aloof?

His avoidance of the media spotlight, lack of ostentatious goal celebrations, preference for his own company, and sense that he saw himself above other players contributed to this perception.

Why did Dutch fans dislike Bergkamp retiring from international duty aged just 31?

The Netherlands had just reached the Euro 2000 semi-finals and failed to qualify for the 2002 World Cup, leading to resentment that Bergkamp put his club career first prematurely.

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