Football: Bergkamp in line to conquer Europe and the world

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The Independent Online
Dennis Bergkamp could be crowned king of European football before Christmas - and world No 1 early in the new year. Bill Pierce reports.

Dennis Bergkamp is in line for a notable double after Fifa, the governing body of world football, announced yesterday that he is on a shortlist of four, along with the Brazilian pair, Ronaldo and Roberto Carlos, and the Frenchman, Zinedine Zidane, for the accolade of World Player of the Year.

The news comes a few weeks after he was named as a leading candidate from the Premier League for Europe's annual poll.

"It is a big honour to be mentioned at the same time as those other great players," Bergkamp said.

The Dutchman has scored 12 goals in 16 games for the Gunners this season, and his manager at Arsenal, Arsene Wenger, said "I am delighted to see he has been given a chance to be European Footballer of the Year. And I am amazed that he has never been mentioned even in the list of possibilities before.

"At 27 he has arrived at the peak of his career and that is why he is such an important player for us. Technically there are few who can challenge him and he has learned to add aggression to his game. In England you need to be more physical and although it has sometimes brought him a yellow card you cannot lose the aggression or else you lose the ability of the player."

Bergkamp's goals this season are one of the reasons why he's among five Premiership players under consideration for the European award, conducted by the magazine, France Football.

But, he says, "Scoring goals is not my real job in the team. I get just as much pleasure from creating chances for Ian Wright or somebody else to score. I have 12 goals now but at the end of the season we will see who the real goalscorers are."

The winner will be announced at Disneyland near Paris on 12 January.

Ronaldo won it last year when he was with Barcelona and is now favourite to take it home again to his present club, Internazionale. The fact that FIfa have released the names of the four top candidates, instead of the usual three, suggests that two of them have tied for one of the runners- up places.

Ronaldo and his Inter club president, Massimo Moratti, were referred to a Serie A judge yesterday for criticising a referee at the weekend. Ronaldo was reported for comments about Guiseppe Signori, who won the penalty from which Sampdoria equalised in Saturday's 1-1 draw with Inter.

"Signori threw himself on the ground really, well... I must learn to dive too." said Ronaldo, who had given Inter an early lead. "I think referees get a bit nervous and confused when Inter are playing."

Moratti said the penalty, awarded by referee Fiorenzo Treozzi for a challenge on Signori by Francesco Colonnese, was the latest in a series of injustices.

"It wasn't a penalty." Moratti said. "Just like the penalty in the derby against Milan wasn't a penalty and the penalty at Vicenza last weekend wasn't a penalty. It's the third match in a row we've been punished for non-existent penalties and that's just unacceptable... Maybe referees get an inferiority complex when Inter are playing.

"I'm not questioning the good faith of referees, but I am questioning their ability and their professionalism."

Both Ronaldo and Moratti face possible fines.

Vinnie Jones said yesterday that he is ready to leave Wimbledon and begin a new career as a player-manager or coach. The Welsh international believes he has the qualities to guide a lower league side up the ranks.

"This is something I want to go into, either as a player-manager or player- coach," he said "I have to look seriously at the fact that, now I'm 32, a step down to a First Division club would be great for me. It would have to be quite a big club or a sleeping giant, somebody that I could inspire."

Jones also revealed that he has been approached to stand for Parliament. "I have had a letter from a constituency in Wales to stand for the Conservatives," he said, without revealing whether he would accept the offer.