Denis Bergkamp was full of praise for former Arsenal teammate and Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira on Saturday and opened the door to one day working with the Frenchman again in a coaching role.
The two icons – both members of the Premier League Hall of Fame – enjoyed nine trophy-laden seasons together playing for Arsenal, winning three league titles and four FA Cups under manager Arsene Wenger.
Vieira has since followed his old boss into management and has impressed this season taking the reins at Selhurst Park, leading Crystal Palace close to a record points tally in the league as well as an FA Cup semi-final in his first campaign as a Premier League manager.
Bergkamp, who spent six years coaching at Ajax between 2011 and 2017, was in south London on Saturday with his family to support Vieira, with the pair catching up on the Selhurst Park pitch after the Eagles moved into the top half of the Premier League with a 1-0 win over Watford.
“I’ve really enjoyed watching this season,” Bergkamp said before seeing his former Invincibles teammate.
“I feel he’s really influencing the team, you can see his print on them. The way he approaches things and the way they’re playing – you can see his philosophy which is always a good thing.”
When asked if he would consider reuniting with Vieira and working with him again in a coaching capacity, Bergkamp said: “Who knows? I get along well with Patrick. I admire his calmness and his career. Especially the person he is and he’s nice to be around. So who knows what will happen in the future?”.
While Bergkamp was known for his gracefulness and technical ability on the pitch, Vieira garnered a reputation as a player for being combative, touch-tackling and fiercely competitive.
There was also a calm, thoughtful side to the Frenchman – a trait which Bergkamp said he always knew would set his friend up for a career in dugouts.
“Yes, because he has this calmness about him,” said the Dutchman when asked if he had suspected Vieira would go into management.
“He had it as a player as well. Everyone knows the battles he fought in midfield but outside the pitch, there was also a calmness with him talking tactically about getting the ball in the right areas and letting players play to their strength.”
“That’s what he did as a player and you can see it as a coach. He has things sorted where every player has improved over the season and that’s a sign of a good manager. He’s laid a foundation and even more than that.
He’s had a great season and people hadn’t expected that. If he can build from here then maybe they can look forward to finishing higher in the table. It’s interesting to watch.”
It’s not just Bergkamp keeping track of Vieira.
Arsene Wenger has been keeping tabs on Crystal Palace this season and regularly talks to his former captain about how he and the team have been doing.
Thierry Henry, Robert Pires, Martin Keown and other players within the core Arsenal team of the early 2000s all drop in with support and texts too.
“It’s not something you create it’s something that is just there,” added Bergkamp on how much he keeps tabs on his former Gunners teammates.
“The other day I saw Thierry and he reminded me it’s been 16 years which is unbelievable. We spoke over the phone but it’s how it goes. It felt like only the day before we’d seen each other. It’s a really good feeling, I consider all of them friends and it’s important to have such a connection as it’s for life.”