Dennis Bergkamp says helping out with his son’s training sessions made him want to involved with football again.
The legendary Dutch forward scored 120 goals in 423 appearances for Arsenal, before retiring amid emotional scenes in 2006.
After a break away from the game, Bergkamp took his coaching badges before returning to his boyhood club, Ajax, to coach in the academy – but he says it had never been certain that he would take this route.
“The one thing I wanted to do was get out of football, focus on family life and focus on doing the things that I liked best,” he told Arsenal Player. “Get out of the rhythm of football or waking up in the morning. Breakfast, go to football, go to training and then come back.
“Getting out of that rhythm was my aim. Be a family man, that was what I wanted to do. The next few weeks [after retiring] you are thinking back over your career and not worrying about the next few years or the next phase in my life. I was just focusing on the good things that I had as a football player.
“My son Mitchell was playing for an English team locally and sometimes I would do training sessions for them. I was writing down the training sessions I was going to do the next day and I was really enjoying that. Then after those two years in England, at the end of the second year, I got a phone call from Phillip Cocu, who was an assistant at the national team, and he asked me if I wanted to do the [coaching] course and to do my badges.
“At first I said no, but I wanted to move back to Holland to see how that would go because we never lived as a family in Holland. I made a decision to come back to Holland. As a family we lived here and I started doing my badges. I was there with Patrick Kluivert, Michael Reiziger and Phillip Cocu – we were in the same classroom.
“You start to learn how to look at a game. As a football player you’re only watching the ball, where the ball is and as a coach you’re watching the whole team and how they are positioned on the pitch, which was a really good learning process for me.”
After completing his badges, Bergkamp quickly began to climb the ranks at Ajax, where he is now assistant manager.
“When I came to Holland, they asked me if I wanted to do something at Ajax,” he said. “The course took me one year, and after that I got my badges and they asked me if I wanted to come into the youth department to coach the under-12s.
“To experience that, I really enjoyed that team and you realise that you want to move up to the under-19s, and then after two years I was assistant to Frank De Boer in the first team. It went fairly quickly, but once you’re there at the highest level playing football for 20 years you want to get that back. You want to be as close as possible and as quick as possible.”