Born in 1969, Dennis Bergkamp began his footballing days amateurishly in the lower Dutch leagues. He was first discovered by the infamous Ajax youth academy at eleven and soon given his professional debut by the late Johan Cruyff.
He established himself in the Eredivisie and helped the Amsterdam side win their first domestic league title for the first time in five years thanks to his 29 netted efforts. He shared the honour of being top goalscorer with Brazilian striker Romario the coming season before claiming the UEFA Cup in 1992 with his hometown team. He remained top scorer between 1991 and 1993 and subsequently named Dutch Footballer of the Year in ’92 and ’93 thanks to his 122 goals in 239 appearances for the club.
The young Dutchman almost joined La Liga before Cruff advised him not to, and so Bergkamp left for Italy to play for Inter Milan. During his stay in the North Italian city, Bergkamp struggled to adjust to manager Bagnoli’s demands and departed for London.
Following his 1995 Arsenal move, Bergkamp assisted the English side bagging them three premier league trophies, four FA Cups and an impressive Champions League final finish in 2006. Famously part of ’03/’04’s “Invincibles”, the Bergkamp statue erected in 2014 near the Emirates stadium is testament to his momentous time at the club.
His prolific scoring record also went on full-display when playing for the national side. He dethroned Faas Wilkes’ record thereby becoming the Netherlands’ top goalscorer of all time in 1998 thanks to his 37 goals and 79 caps.
Bergkamp is presently Frank de Boer’s assistant manager at Ajax.
Other sporting icons born on the same day:
1982: Adebayo Akinfenwa, the heavily-built Wimbledon striker is renowned for being considered the strongest player in the popular FIFA video game series. (33)
1988: Adam Lallana, English attacking midfielder who helped former club Southampton earn promotion twice before moving to current club Liverpool. (27)
1990: Salvador Pérez, Venezuelan catcher who became an MLB All-Star three times as well as three-time Gold Glove Award winner. (26)
1995: Melissa Franklin, the four-time Olympic gold medalist presently holds world records for the 200m backstroke and 4 x 100m relay race with U.S. national swim team. (20)