Dennis Bergkamp Stillness and Speed: My Story
Dennis Bergkamp went under my radar for a long time. Only now am I getting a sense of how amazing he was. Yes I saw the goal against Argentina and the goal against Newcastle and the incredible control against Leicester. But recently I have seen several other examples of control and finishing and the ability to create for his teammates. Bergkamp was a gifted player that slotted in at Arsenal and raised the level of the Gunners, allowing them to push several versions Manchester United from 1997 to 2004 and the book, Stillness and Speed: My Story, focuses on this a great deal.
Bergkamp’s books is unusual in that it is not a straightforward recap of the Dutchman’s career—born, played at Ajax, moved to Inter, transferred to Arsenal, retired. Bergkamp, along with David Winner, explains all of these checkpoints but uses a series of interviews with key people in each of those stages to unpack the events. The style takes getting used to yet it allows for the subjects to share their thoughts in long responses instead of summarizing and merely recounting history. The result creates a context and aura for a very special player.
Yes, the player had success at Ajax and struggled at Inter, but at Arsenal, there was a fusion of desire and technique that created a historic era at the club. Bergkamp and Winner do a wonderful job of framing a situation and letting Bergkamp share his thoughts, along with other participants to give a deeper understanding. This is where the book shines.
In the end, three things stuck out to me after reading this book: Bergkamp was held in high esteem by his teammates, especially at Arsenal and especially Thierry Henry; his pursuit of perfection was relentless; and Ajax is a unique club with a history and culture different than many of the clubs I have read about.
This book is well worth reading if you love Bergkamp or Arsenal, but it is really worth it for the artistic beauty of soccer, of a game that can transcend mere sport.
For a full list of my book reviews, please visit the Recommended Reading page. And reach out to me with your suggestions as well.