‘We went back out, I walked around for 15 minutes and got taken off. I looked at my dad in the stands and just shook my head. I welled up and came off. As I took my pads off, I said: “This is the last game I ever play.” And it was. That was that.’
Those were the last words of the player dubbed ‘the next David Beckham,’ following his last moments on a football pitch as a professional.
You don’t need to delve too much into the Google search engine to find out about the career of David Bentley. Before he was the next David Beckham, he was “the next Dennis Bergkamp”. Obviously, there was never any pressure on this kid…
He represented Arsenal, Norwich, Rovers, Spurs, Birmingham, West Ham, FC Rostov and Rovers again. and Bentley also boasts being the first English goal scorer at the new Wembley. He was the first Englishman to play football in the Russian Premier League, and he was the first player in the Premier League era to score a hat-trick against Man United following signing for Rovers permanently.
Not a bad resume for someone who retired at the age of 29.
He was quite the character and definitely someone you would want in the dressing room. You only have to look back to how he celebrated when Spurs qualified for the Champions League. Although probably not his best idea soaking Harry Redknapp, it just showed how much he cared and how invested he was for whoever he was representing at the time.
The happy go lucky guy can be found on YouTube betting his agent his watch that he can kick a football from a London rooftop into a skip on the ground. Which he nails.
Then there is the dance-off between himself, David Dunn and Benny McCarthy. This particular video just proves how far technology has come since 2007 with the shoddy camera phone it was recorded on. But, shows the camaraderie between the Rovers squad back then.
During his 3 successful years at Ewood, Bentley confirmed that Jose Mourinho was interested in him whilst at Chelsea and then again when he was in charge of Inter Milan.
When asked if he regretted leaving Rovers, his response was that he regretted the way he went about it – admitting he forced John Williams’ hand as he wanted to return to London. That was his will so much, that he turned down Aston Villa, who offered him double the contract he signed at Spurs.
His mixed stay at Spurs where he went from playing right back under Ramos to getting into the champions league under Harry.
As I mentioned earlier, unfortunately after his Champions League qualification celebration live on Sky, he fell out of favour under Redknapp.
The next season, along with the emergence of Aaron Lennon, Bentley made mainly substitute appearances and by 2011 the remainder of his Spurs contract was spent out on loan. But, no one can take away his better moments at Spurs. It wouldn’t be right to not mention ‘that’ goal for Spurs against Arsenal. A 43-yard volley lobbing the goalkeeper of your former club and current clubs arch rivals. It doesn’t get better than that for a player.
After loan spells with Birmingham, West Ham and Rostov failed to reignite his stalling career, it was only natural for him to return to the club he enjoyed the best part of his career. Unfortunately, Blackburn Rovers was a very different club to the one he left in 2008. In his words ‘the club was all over the place, with a lot of in-house fighting’. The club he knew was gone.
At the end of his contract, he was released from Spurs. Although he never officially announced his retirement for another 12 months, he knew his time as a professional footballer was over.
Since retirement, David fancies himself as “The New Tom Cruise”. He spent 3 years living in the hills of Marbella where he is a co-owner of the restaurant named ‘La Sala’ which has had the honour of having the Prince of Monaco as a guest.
During his time in Spain, he didn’t watch a game of football for 2 years – showing how he had fallen out of love for the game.
Having turned down an appearance on ‘I’m a Celebrity… Get me out of here’, he had a brief stint as a Gaelic footballer for an Irish TV show – where he spent a week training before competing in a match for Crossmaglen Rangers.
David has now returned to the UK with his partner and 3 children. They have opened a second ‘La Sala’ restaurant in Essex. He has cited the reason for his return is to be closer to friends and family and try his hand as a football agent. His experience and contacts will no doubt be helpful to the next generation of young players.
There was something special about Bentley, and it’s a shame to see the way his career went in his “Life After Ewood”.
Thanks for reading.