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Dennis Bergkamp Never Won The World Cup

Dennis Bergkamp

But we named the bakery after him anyway.

It’s fair to say that I’m a soccer fanatic.  For me it started in the summer of 1994, the year the USA hosted the World Cup and TSN decided to carry all 64 games live.  I bought a set of 8 hour VHS tapes, queued up the VCR and taped, and watched every single game.  I was hooked!

What characters!  Carlos Valderrama of Columbia, with his crazy huge afro. Gheorghe Hagi of Romania, who was this little guy but was a magician with the ball.  Romario and Bebeto, diminutive strikers from Brazil.   Roberto Baggio, who broke Italian hearts in the final and who to this day reminds me of Carlo from Italian Star Deli.

But it was the Dutch, with their orange and black uniforms and open playing style, who captured my heart.  And Dennis Bergkamp was the player who stuck out for me.

Dennis played well in 94, scoring in the quarter final against eventual champions Brazil,  but he cemented his place in my heart in 1998 in France.  There, in the semi finals against Argentina, Dennis Bergkamp scored the greatest World Cup goal I’ve ever seen.  With mere minutes left in a 1-1 match, Frank de Boer sent a 60 yard pass toward Dennis, who took the ball perfectly, played it between the defenders legs, back toward the next, turned again and scored from a near impossible angle.  The perfect goal and the game was won!

Here’s the goal if you can’t quite remember it.  Gotta love the Dutch commentator in this clip!

And if that wasn’t enough, The Guardian has re-enacted this famous goal with Lego!

Netherlands beat Argentina 2-1 in the 1998 quarter finals and nearly got past Brazil in the semi’s, but lost in a penalty shoot out.  And that was the end of World Cup football for Dennis Bergkamp.  But by that point I learned that Bergkamp played his club football at Arsenal so I got to follow his exploits for the Gunners (in print anyway; Dennis had retired before I could get dodgy internet feeds of Arsenal games in the mid-2000’s.)

When it came time to open our bakery on Gordon Road, we needed a name.  Once we decided we didn’t want a super serious name like Waving Wheat or Staff of Life or the You’ll Love Yourself If You Eat Bread From Here Bakery, it didn’t take too long before football, and Holland and Dennis seeped into my brain.  Hmmm…Orange…Orange Boot….Orange Boot!  That’s it!

I’m sure there’s lots of other connections I could use to justify the name (The Old Boot Italian restaurant in Sechelt BC comes to mind) but deep down, Dennis Bergkamp is the Big One.

These days there’s a ton of soccer on TV.  I can watch every Arsenal game, Champions League games with the best teams in Europe, MLS games from Canada and the USA and, of course, World Cup games.  I haven’t missed a single World Cup game since 1994, even when we were travelling.  Last time round, in 2010, while the World Cup was being played in South Africa, our family was travelling in the Maritimes.  Ben and I found a great restaurant with a big screen projector in a tent next door.  We watched the Holland – Brazil quarter final, Holland – Uruguay semi final and the Germany – Spain semi final (Ben’s a big fan of Germany.)  And we all huddled in a motel room in Wolfville, NS to watch Holland lose to Spain in the final.  I was heartbroken, then felt a little betrayed to learn Cindy, Ben and Robyn were quietly cheering for Spain!

And this Friday, it starts again.  The World Cup. From Brazil, no less.  Holland plays Spain in the opening weekend.   I’m so excited!

I don’t need VHS tapes any more, but my PVR is primed and ready.  I’m determined to stay caught up with the games so we can chat and bug each other during the tournament.  I don’t think my Dutch boys will make it to the final this year, but they might.  If they’re still alive in July I’ll be thrilled.

So you may see a little extra Orange at the bakery this month.  Cindy might even be making some special World Cup cookies.  If you’ve got a favourite team, be sure to let me know – it’ll be nice to meet fellow football fans.

And if you’ve got any Panini stickers to trade, let me know.  I’ll trade sticker for sticker, or even stickers for cookies.  I’m filling my sticker album for the first time this year and am having a blast!