Football stories part 34. This time the editors had the magnificent idea to ask Italian journalists to write personal memories about Dutch players that played in Italy. So we know that before Maradona, Napoli already had another huge foreign star: Ruud Krol. We get to know a completely different view on Edgar Davids, who in the middle of the night gets out of his car to help push a car from a young lady to a petrol station as she had run out of gas. The story of a magnificent goal by Maricano Vink in Genoa is interesting.
However all these good stories are all put to shame by Luigi Garlando. How he got the information I do not know, but it is inside information that clears a lot of mysteries about the days of Dennis Bergkamp at Internazionale de Milano. The story is about why he failed and the last efforts his manager did in December 1994. After an away match against AS Roma in which Bergkamp, again, was invisible, he decided not to return to Milan with the team, but to drive back with his star player who in his first months had only occasionally shone as he had done in Amsterdam.
He counted on Bergkamp’s fear of flying, which was becoming stronger in those days. He got the home team to rent a car for him and drove back with the silent striker next to him. He tried some conversation, but didn’t get much more than a few short answers. Hours later he goes into a road restaurant to buy a sandwich and finds the car empty on return. Kidnapping is the first thing that came to mind, when he suddenly heard some rumour at the back. In between the light of some truck drivers there is a little game of football. 4 truck drivers on one side, Bergkamp with two others on the other side. The manager joins them for this strange game in the middle of the night. For the first time in ages he saw his star actually enjoy himself.
Back in the car Bergkamp starts talking himself for the first time since Rome. “They were Arsenal fans”, he explains the reason he joined the drivers. Bagnoli knew that Bergkamp wasn’t going to be a star in Italy. He would never be completely happy. Even though they still won the Uefa cup, Bergkamp’s star didn’t shine again until he moved to London.
This story is the reason that I think Hard Gras should be translated into several other languages.