Today I welcome Willem Gonggrijp aka @BergkampFlick Follow Willem!, as a guest blogger to North London Is Red. Willem recently launched his own blog, BergkampFlick and describes himself as a realistic idealist. As a countryman of van Basten and Johan Cruijff, he’s looking to entertain us with the written word and I think he will with this delightful piece. Take it away Willem…..
I would like to tell you something about God. God has always been an important figure in my life, ever since I was a little boy. As a matter of fact, I remember my first encounter with Him like it was yesterday.
Six-year-old me had a boring summer. The Dutch weather is known to be very changeable, but 1998 was an utter disappointment. There was lots of rain and no sun to be seen. It was gloomy stuff back then but luckily there was a World Cup for me to look forward to.
The Netherlands topped group E with 5 points, and had beaten Yugoslavia in the round of 16. A thrilling quarter-final against a dangerous Argentine side awaited. Players like current Atlético Madrid manager Diego Simeone, Batigol , Juan Sebastian Veron and never-ageing Javier Zanetti were part of their starting line-up. You can imagine why I wasn’t exactly confident.
Oranje took an early lead, but that 12th minute goal from Kluivert looked futile when Claudio Lopez scored the equalizer five minutes later. It was absolutely nerve wrecking to watch, especially when Dutchman Artur Numan got his second yellow with fifteen minutes to go. The boys in orange fought very hard, but it seemed like we were heading for extra time. Then “it” happened.
Frank de Boer found himself in possession after Lopez over hit his cross to Batistuta. The Dutch captain – a playmaker from central defense – ran all the way to the edge of the centre circle. He looked up and took a swing with that fantastic left foot of his. On the ball went; thirty yards, forty, fifty. As the camera panned, I saw a man running. He wore an orange shirt, with number eight on the back. Fittingly, as ∞ is the symbol for infinity.
Did he know? Did he know what he was going to do after he took that first touch? Did he know that he was about to rock a six-year-old’s world? Whether he knew it or not, that’s exactly what he did. God received the ball on the edge of the six yard box and in a flash or brilliance he flicked the ball past Roberto Ayala. He struck the ball with the outside of his supernatural right foot and it arced goal-wards. The ‘keeper never stood a chance – the ball rippled the net; He had scored. It was magic, a pure explosion of magic.
I was absolutely stunned. It was beyond comprehension that someone could manipulate a football like that. In that moment I found religion. I became a believer. Shortly after I found out He played for an English club called Arsenal FC. From the moment the ball left his foot, Dennis was my God, and Arsenal became my church.
Now, almost 16 years later, I’m still a believer. Wengerball is now my Dennisism, and through harmony we’ll be victorious.
The Lords Prayer
Who art in Winter Wonderland
Hallowed be thy name
Thy kingdom [penalty area] come
A goal will be done
On Earth as it was in seasons ’95 to ’06
Give us this day our daily chiselled Dutch Features
And forgive us our trespasses offside
As we forgive those Spuds who think they’ll finish above us
Lead us not into Stoke
But deliver us from Piers Morgan
‘Arry, Pubis and other scab ridden fools
For thine is the Highbury, the clock end & marble halls
For ever and ever
Thanks Willem, that was a lovely story about how you found Arsenal and wonderfully written. I still can’t believe that is only your second blog in English. Thanks for reading guys and helping me support my fellow Gooner bloggers. Please do leave your comments and don’t forget to click that follow button!
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