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Arsenal honor Bergkamp with statue at stadium

Arsenal fans look at a statue of former striker Dennis Bergkamp after it was unveiled before their English Premier League soccer match again
Arsenal fans look at a statue of former striker Dennis Bergkamp after it was unveiled before their English Premier League soccer match again

LONDON (Reuters) - Arsenal unveiled a statue of former striker Dennis Bergkamp on Saturday, the Dutchman becoming the fourth club great to be cast in bronze outside the Emirates Stadium in London.

In 11 years at Arsenal, Bergkamp, 44, scored 120 goals in 423 appearances and won seven major honors.

The former Netherlands international also made a key contribution to Arsenal's historic undefeated Premier League season in 2003-04.

Over 2,000 fans turned out to see the player voted in 2008 the second-greatest to have represented the club.

"They asked me, 'Is it ok if we build this statue for you outside the stadium?' I was like, 'You have to ask me? It's fantastic, it's overwhelming I'm really honored.' So of course I said yes," a clearly emotional Bergkamp said at the unveiling ceremony before Arsenal's Premier League match against Sunderland.

The eight-foot (2.4-metre) high statue is based on Bergkamp, nicknamed the non-flying Dutchman by the British media because of his fear of flying, controlling a pass in mid-air during a 2003 match against Newcastle.

"It'll be nice every time you walk through here to see (the statue) and remind you what a great player he was and the great times we had watching him," said 55-year-old Arsenal fan David Simpson.

Statues of former Arsenal manager Herbert Chapman, and players Tony Adams and Thierry Henry were unveiled outside the Emirates in 2011.

(Reporting by Joshua Franklin; editing by Josh Reich) nL3N0LR0A6

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