Dennis Bergkamp played for Ajax Amsterdam, Internazionale, Arsenal F.C and the Netherlands national football team; he spent the final 11 years of his career playing for Arsenal. Bergkamp played most of his best games as a support striker, where his tactical awareness and deft passes made him a great exponent of the game from the "hole".
His parents, who were football fanatics, named him after Manchester City, Manchester United and Scotland striker Denis Law, though they altered the spelling of the name. The Dutch authorities decided that Denis was too similar to "Denise", so Bergkamp's parents settled for Dennis. In the Netherlands however, the middle name "Maria" is not uncommon for boys. Raised in a flat in western Amsterdam, Bergkamp was one of four sons of a Catholic plumber. He was never known to socialize much outside of his own family.
Bergkamp made his international debut for the Netherlands in 1990 against Italy. His first major tournament was Euro 92, where the Dutch were defending champions. Bergkamp impressed (catching the eye of Inter, who would later sign him), but the Dutch lost on penalties in the semi-finals.
Bergkamp also impressed in the 1994 World Cup, playing in all of his side's matches, scoring a spectacular goal against Brazil, a match the Dutch ultimately lost 3-2. Holland disappointed in Euro 96, with the squad riven by in-fighting, although Bergkamp still scored once, and set up Patrick Kluivert's consolatory goal against England that got the side into the quarter-finals.
In the 1998 World Cup, Bergkamp scored three times, the most memorable of which being the winning goal in the final minute of the quarter-final against Argentina. Bergkamp took a leaping first touch to control a long 60-yard aerial pass from Frank de Boer, reverse-flicked the ball past Argentine defender Roberto Ayala, and finally finished by firing a half-volley past the keeper at a tight angle from the right. With three intelligent right-footed touches in a matter of seconds, he was able to turn the game and send his national squad into the semifinal round. This goal was widely regarded as one of the best of the tournament and remains as one of the greatest goals scored in World Cup history for its timeliness and manner of execution.
The Netherlands joint-hosted Euro 2000 and were one of the favourites. After progressing through the "group of death", they lost on penalties to Italy in the semi-finals. Bergkamp didn't score at all during the tournament but still played an important role. After the defeat, Bergkamp announced his retirement from international football, because the next major tournament, the 2002 World Cup, would be played in Japan and South Korea and Bergkamp's aviophobia (see below) would prevent him from travelling there. He did not play the qualification matches, since he thought that it would be unfair to do so; the Netherlands ended up not qualifying at all.
He ended his international career first on the all-time list of goal scorers for the Dutch national team, with 37 goals in 79 games. His record has since been passed by Patrick Kluivert.