The big interview: Dennis Bergkamp – "I never expected to be at Arsenal for 11 years"

It's perfect weather for an encounter with 'The Iceman'. The land is covered in powdery snow, it's seven below zero and north Holland's canals are frozen thick. Beside the IJsselmeer, the effect of an icy Siberian wind whipping into your face is like being thumped in the face with hammers. The cold snap has forced Ajax to cancel today's youth team training, so the club's legendary under-12s coach has agreed to meet us at a cosy cafe in the village of Baricum about 30 kilometres outside Amsterdam.

As Dennis Bergkamp talks candidly about his ideals, his career and his greatest goals and passes, you realise the nickname doesn't fit at all. The Arsenal and Holland great is warm, intelligent, passionate, gracious and modest. And the feeling you get talking to him is remarkably like the one you had watching him play: you come away strangely enriched. Hopefully you'll feel the same way...

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