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Name Adrian Clarke
Gender Male
Ethnic xxxx
Job xxxx Footballer
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Affiliation

Org xxxx National Team
Club as Player Arsenal FC
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2016 02 04 Retrieve

[On Dennis Bergkamp] Shortly after Dennis Bergkamp signed, Arsenal’s training ground also hummed with a lot more spontaneous applause. It could have been a shot that whizzed into the top corner, a sublime touch that made a defender look silly, or a perceptive pass no one else saw coming. The claps kept on coming for the Dutch master.

‘Ahhhhhh love that!’ ‘Stop it, that’s brilliant Dennis!’ ‘Too good Den!’

I’m not exaggerating. First team training sessions were often a daily convention of the Bergkamp Appreciation Society…

There were also trophy winners and full internationals everywhere you looked in the Gunners dressing room. Standards were already very high when he arrived. It was more that this was the first time a truly world-class footballer at his peak, had been part of the squad. He was on another level. Most of us were blown away

I know I’d never seen a footballer as technically brilliant in person. I’d quietly study Dennis’s attitude, the speed of his feet, his polished first touch, how he demanded that you fizz a firm pass into him, the way he volleyed a ball, and the craftsmanship of his finishing…

As a winger I’ve got to say he was a dream to play with. Wherever I wanted the ball, that’s where I’d get it. There was never a hospital pass. His vision and distribution was never anything but precise and thoughtful. He made all of us look better players

[. . .] whenever I’m asked who the best I ever played with was, there’s never ever a moment’s hesitation. It has to be Dennis Bergkamp. He was in a class of his own

2020 03 18 Retrieve

[Adrian Clarke has suggested that Mikel Arteta could sell Arsenal winger Nicolas Pepe, unless he improves drastically] I’m sure he’s preaching to Pepe what we want on a daily basis. It’s up to the player whether he wants to take that on board and learn. If he won’t produce the type of game the head coach wants from him, he might be one of the ones that they sacrifice long term. That goes for everyone actually. If you don’t do the job that Arteta wants you to do, I don’t think he will hold on to those players because of their names or fees. I think he’ll move them on and bring in people prepared to do that

2020 03 19 Retrieve

[Former Arsenal midfielder Adrian Clarke has suggested manager Mikel Arteta experiment by playing Nicolas Pepe on the left flank] I was a winger that played on both sides, primarily left-footed, but a lot of my first senior appearances for Arsenal were on the right-wing. I was comfortable going on the outside and using my right. I wasn’t as so predominantly left-footed as Pepe. It’s something worth considering. It’s all about combinations really.

[Clarke goes on further to shed light on how Pepe can become an effective left-winger without much fuss] At the moment we’ve got a seriously attacking left-back so the left-winger doesn’t need to do that because the left-back does, so you’ve got [Gabriel] Martinelli or Aubameyang playing as a second striker from the left.

On the right, the reason the balance isn’t as good because we can’t push the full-back on as much for obvious reasons with [Bukayo] Saka playing as a left-winger practically and because of Pepe coming inside. It is imbalanced.

If Pepe was the type of player that went on the outside, we would be flying right now. I think he should mix up his game more, I think his decision-making absolutely can be better and more consistent. I want to see him combining more often with [Alexandre] Lacazette or whoever is playing as the striker. I want to see those give-and-gos a bit more often. We’ve seen it a little bit more of late with [Mesut] Ozil and Pepe, which is really encouraging, we want to see more of that

2020 04 13 Retrieve

[Adrian Clarke opens up on memories of Dennis Bergkamp] I remember Dennis Bergkamp’s weight of pass, when as a wide player you are trying to link up with strikers, and he would feed a perfect pass, you wouldn’t have to break stride and if you gave it back he’d kill it stone dead

[In an exclusive interview with Dan Mountney for the Islington Gazette, Clarke recalled training – and playing with the Dutch master - with wide-eyed wonder and no little fondness] He was just pure class both on and off the pitch. He was a gentleman, no ego at all, he would include the younger players and he was very funny. In terms of on the pitch, I’ve never seen a first touch like it. I consider it the highlight of my career playing alongside him. He’s the best player I’ve ever played with. You don’t get opportunities to play with someone like that very often

[As the likeable 45-year-old, now carving out a successful career in analysing Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal, recalls with pride his Gunners bow in late December 1994 – which came in the famous match against QPR when John Jensen finally scored his first goal in red and white, after 98 appearances] When you walk out with the first-team, having been with the club since the age of 10, you can’t explain how proud you feel. I was living out my dream. It’s a moment you dream about so many times and then it actually happens. It was New Year’s Eve and I came on as a substitute. It was actually the game when John Jensen scored his one and only goal so it was a real I was there moment as well

[Clarke revealed the Arsenal squad were both staggered by the Frenchman’s approach] We’d read up on him once we saw he was coming, but he wasn’t a famous manager in the UK. It was a shock and a feeling of who is this guy? He didn’t look like your typical manager either, he looked more like a professor. But, when he sat us down for that first chat at London Colney, at the end everyone was impressed.

You also had to get over the shock of the training methods as they were so different, but once you got used to that you realised the benefits and he gained our respect very quickly. With Arsene, warm-ups were more like a pilates class, so it was a shock to the system, but we felt stronger in a matter of weeks

[A raft of new signings including Patrick Viera and Emmanuel Petit in an already crowded midfield, along with the emergence of Ray Parlour and others resulted in a lack of opportunities to catch Wenger’s eye.] It was heartbreaking to leave. I had limited chances to impress Arsene, but I ultimately needed to leave. I was out of contract and I knew it was unlikely they’d offer me a new deal.

We had a 10-minute chat at the end of the season, and he said that he thought it would be better for my career to get first-team football and he couldn’t offer me that. He wished me the best of luck, I smiled my way through it and thanked him.

I remember seeing Matthew Upson going in to sign for the club as I was leaving and I just got to my car and broke down crying. It just hit home that having been there since I was 10, it was all over at Arsenal