Arsenal great Dennis Bergkamp admits to having had doubts about Arsene Wenger when the Frenchman was brought to north London as a virtual unknown in 1996.
The Gunners took the decision to part with Bruce Rioch after enduring a tough start to their Premier League campaign and sought inspiration from a coach who had been working in Japan.
Few knew what to expect from Wenger, but he would go on to spend 22 years in English football and help revolutionise the game in the modern era.
Bergkamp was quickly won over by a manager who guided the Gunners to three Premier League titles, but concedes that he was sceptical when a bold appointment was initially made.
The iconic Dutchman, who spent 11 years with Arsenal before hanging up his boots in 2006, told the club’s official podcast: ‘I do remember it was kind of a shock they had to let Bruce go.
‘We’d not had the best of seasons in 1995-96 but I think it was good enough to progress to the next season with a lot of confidence, but it wasn’t meant to be.
‘There was a certain period between the moment he was let go until Arsene came – I think it was a few months – which was an insecure time for me because I was remembering the lies from Italy again. I was thinking, “OK, wait a minute, what’s going to happen now?”
‘There were some doubts in my mind but they were soon taken away when Arsene came in because he was the one who had a philosophy that suited my philosophy, it was the same. His philosophy suited my game and therefore there were no doubts once he took over.
‘There was a good understanding and from day one we knew what we expected from each other and that’s why it worked.’
Bergkamp took in 423 appearances for Arsenal, helping them to three Premier League crowns and the same number of FA Cup successes while recording 120 goals.
He is considered to be one of the finest talents to have ever graced English football and was a prominent part of the Gunners side that secured ‘Invincibles’ status by navigating an entire top-flight campaign unbeaten in 2003-04.
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