Bergkamp touched by Gunners farewell

July 23, 2006

Dennis Bergkamp enjoyed his emotional Arsenal send-off following his testimonial at the brand new £390million Emirates Stadium on Saturday.

Arsenal beat Ajax 2-1 courtesy of goals from Thierry Henry and Kanu, and Bergkamp revealed he was touched by the the reception he received from the 54,000 crowd and from his fellow players who turned out to bid him farewell.

'It was brilliant, and it was difficult not to get emotional,' said the 37-year-old who has achieved legendary status in north London following 423 appearances and 120 goals in the famous red and white shirt.

'It feels like these players, and the fans, they are all one big family and it truly felt that way today.'

Henry took just 11 minutes to find the net in his new surroundings, tucking away a Lee Dixon cross after putting in a surprise appearance for a Legends side which contested the second half and also featured Patrick Vieira, Ian Wright and David Seaman.

Henry and Vieira had flown in especially from America, while for the opposition Marco van Basten, Frank Rijkaard and the original Dutch legend Johan Cruyff took to the field.

'Apart from being here for me they all love the game as well,' added Bergkamp. 'We asked them if they would come over, I have showed them a lot of respect in the past and they have repaid it.

'And the effort Thierry and Patrick put in, coming back from America, is just fantastic.'

Klaas Jan Huntelaar put the current Ajax first team in the lead with a 38th-minute volley with Bergkamp pulling the strings for a young Arsenal XI.

But it took the veterans - and Henry - to seal a victory for Bergkamp's final appearance, although the Dutchman could have stolen the show further had a last-minute drive not been kept out by Ajax goalkeeper Stanley Menzo, who looked like he was trying to get out of the way.

Ronald de Boer also had the good grace to sky a second-half penalty after Gilles Grimandi had felled Tottenham's Edgar Davids.

And Kanu put the winner inside Menzo's near post via a wicked deflection from Jaap Stam's backside.

'I felt old in the first half, and young in the second,' added Bergkamp. 'It was great to play with all those young players.'

The emotion of the day was summed up by Bergkamp's father, who kicked off the proceedings nine months after being diagnosed with lung cancer.

Bergkamp added: 'It was his target to be here and thankfully the treatment went well - and it was so good to see him here.'