Bergkamp: I could have stopped United’s Treble

Matt Stead

Dennis Bergkamp has described the penalty miss in the 1999 FA Cup semi-final replay against Manchester United as the “biggest blow” of his career.

The former Arsenal striker missed a last-minute penalty against United in the latter stages of the 1999 competition at Villa Park, with the scores at 1-1.

Bergkamp had equalised for Arsenal with a deflected strike after David Beckham opened the scoring, with United chasing the double as they led the Premier League table.

Peter Schmeichel saved Bergkamp’s spot kick in the 90th minute of the replay, and United went on to win the tie through Ryan Giggs’ memorable solo goal.

Alex Ferguson’s side beat Bayern Munich 2-1 in the Champions League final four days after United’s eventual triumph in the FA Cup showpiece, completing the final leg of a Treble Bergkamp feels he could have prevented.

“I was confident,” Bergkamp told the Daily Mail of the penalty. “I was not the best penalty-taker but at that moment the responsibility was with me. I gladly left it to Thierry Henry in the years after and Wrighty before me because they are more clinical. In my mind, it has to be a little bit nicer – it has to be in the top corner.

“That miss was one of the biggest blows in my career. If someone else misses a penalty you can blame them in your mind. You don’t, but in your mind you think, ‘He should have scored that’. Now it was me.

“Football is a game of moments. If I score the penalty, they (Manchester United) probably don’t win the Treble. That made it their season.”