Blow for Dutch as Bergkamp decides on retirement

Dennis Bergkamp has confirmed his retirement from international football, the new Netherlands coach, Louis van Gaal, said yesterday.

Dennis Bergkamp has confirmed his retirement from international football, the new Netherlands coach, Louis van Gaal, said yesterday.

The 31-year-old Arsenal striker had said he planned to retire after Euro 2000, but until he made a definite announcement Van Gaal had been hopeful of persuading him to change his mind.

When the former Barcelona coach named his squad of 21 players to take part in the first training sessions under his supervision, Bergkamp was not included. "I understand that Dennis's decision was a definitive one and I have to reconcile myself to that," said Van Gaal, who added he had received a letter from Bergkamp.

Bergkamp was quoted as saying: "I have decided, after months of weighing the pros and cons, to take this decision. Because of the busy programme I will not get enough rest to perform optimally. I want to focus fully on the [English] club competition."

Van Gaal, who has appointed the former Netherlands international defender Ruud Krol as his assistant, has chosen mainly players who were at Euro 2000, although Chelsea's Ed de Goey, Feyenoord's Peter van Vossen, Benfica's Pierre van Hooijdonk and Deportivo La Coruña's Roy Makaay were missing. However, Van Gaal stressed that nobody was excluded permanently.

Jaap Stam can play in Manchester United's opening Premiership match against Newcastle. The club had feared the defender would miss the game on 20 August because of Van Gaal's training camp.

However, the Dutch Football Association has confirmed that the training camp will take place from next Monday to Wednesday, culminating in a friendly against the amateur side Agow on the final night. Stam will be able to report back to United on Thursday to rejoin the Reds' build-up for the season's kick-off.

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