Alan Smith recently wrote a really good article on the brilliance of Bergkamp.

For those of you who aren’t soccer/football fans, Bergkamp was basically a genius of a player. He could pick out passes and do things that others could only dream of. I think the photo depicts it perfectly. When Bergkamp played, he brought new color to the game, and exposed the dullness of the others players. Nick Hornby put it this way, “When Dennis arrived, he exposed something about England. It’s as if you’re watching a film with special effects where everything is very small, and it’s fine as long as they keep the cameraman out of the picture…. but then ‘oh, they’re only an inch tall’.”

There are a lot of things that I can write about regarding Bergkamp, but I just want to point out 3, and what you can learn from them.

Firstly, one of the great things about him is his vision. Ask any football fan, and they’ll tell you his vision was legendary. His imagination and creativity as well. Basically, he could see things that others couldn’t, and that’s the first step in doing it. And I think that’s the similarity between all the greats. The great players could see things before they happened, in a way that others couldn’t. In any field, it’s the same. If you want to be great, train yourself to see things others can’t.

Secondly, take note of this quote from Bergkamp himself. “Those through-balls are just a matter of practice. A lot of it has to do with the pace of the ball. Anyone can play a ball in between two defenders, but you’ve got to judge the pace right. If you do, it’s a great ball, otherwise it looks like nothing. On a wet pitch, on a dry pitch – it’s all different.” It’s the pace of the ball that’s the most important. And it’s the same with anything in life. Anyone can pursue a task or a goal. But the most important, and the hardest thing, is to decide how fast to go in. Knowing when to hold back, when to go full in. That’s the most important decision, and sometimes the hardest to make.

The final thing I want to mention is about how Bergkamp made everyone around him look good. BBC Sport puts in this way. :It comes as no surprise that Bergkamp’s time at Arsenal has coincided with his major strike partners breaking the club’s scoring record, not once, but twice.” And just listen to the tributes paid to him, by other professionals. Ian Wright said that “He’s the messiah. We told him to get us into Europe when he joined and that’s exactly what he did. Thierry Henry added, “Dennis is the best player I have ever played with as a partner. It is a dream for a striker to have him in the team with you.” Vieira summed it up. “Bergkamp makes the players around him look great.” Simply put, making others look great is one sign of true greatness.

So yeah, 3 lessons from Bergkamp’s brilliance. The ability to see things others can’t. Being able to judge how far to go, how to weigh your attempts. And finally, the ability to make others look great.

How can you develop those 3 skills?