What is there to be said about the great man?
Born in Lewisham back in 1967, Rocky suffered the loss of his father when he was just 5 years old.
He left school in 1983 and the summer of the same year he joined Arsenal Football Club as an apprentice spending two years in the youth team. Just prior to the beginning of 1985/86 season Rocky signed his first professional contract, with us of course!
Rocky struggled to begin with and in training the players couldn’t understand why this kid with so much talent would be running around, dribbling the ball with his head down, then it clicked.
Martin Keown said this:
They couldn’t work out why Rocastle was running around dribbling with his head down. So they took him to the halfway line and said: Can you see the goal?
He couldn’t so the club sorted this out for him and a pair of contact lenses solved the problem. He didn’t look back from that day!
David Rocastle’s debut was against Newcastle and he would go on to play another twenty-five matches that season and despite the change in manager from Howe to Graham, Rocky remained a regular in the side.
In 1987, just prior to him turning twenty, Rocky helped Arsenal to victory over Liverpool in the League Cup but sadly he was also part of a losing side in the same final the following year, Arsenal let a 2-0 lead slip away against Luton.
In 1989 his first League winners medal came after the dramatic events at Anfield, the second came in 1991, albeit a knee injury meant Rocky would only make eighteen appearances that season, a season in which Arsenal lost only once in the league. The following season though was totally the opposite, Rocky missed only three out of forty two matches played, scoring four goals.
In 1992, Rocky was sold to Leeds United for £2 Million and on finding out that he was to leave the club he did something I bet not one player in this current squad would do.
He cried, he cried his heart out knowing that he would no longer be part of the club he loved and cared for so much! He didn’t want to leave Arsenal Football Club, not one bit!
Rocky would go onto play for other clubs too but injury forced him to retire in 1999.
Then, in February 2001 all Arsenal fans were horrified to hear that David Rocastle was ill, very ill. He was suffering from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, an aggressive form of cancer which attacks the immune system. He underwent a course of chemotherapy and was positive about a recovery.
Ten years ago today, Arsenal Fans hearts were broken when the news broke that David ‘Rocky’ Rocastle had lost his short battle with this evil disease and had passed away in the early hours.
He was just 33 years old and left behind his wife Janet, his son Ryan and daughters Melissa and the youngest Monique, who was just five years old – the same age as Rocky when he lost his Dad.
The world had lost a good man, a decent man, an honest family man and the world of football had lost a truly great footballing man.
He gave his short life to football and to his family, for nine of those years he gave everything football to Arsenal.
For nine years he lived, breathed and walked tall for the club he loved, the club that was in every bone of his small 5′ 9″ frame. What he lacked in height though he made up for in guts, committment and attitude, attitude and desire to one thing and that was to wear his club shirt with pride and lay his body on the line for the club and players around him.
Remember the ‘Winterburn – McClair’ Mass Brawl in 1990 at Old Trafford : Rocky said this:
“It was our team mate, our blood brother, in trouble. They were kicking Nigel like a nightclub brawl. That’s what got us upset. We went in there and we stuck up for each other. At Arsenal we never ever started any brawls – we just finished them”
If only some of our players today had half of what Rocky had……
He was Mr Arsenal for every year he graced the football pitch wearing the colours of his beloved team.
He didn’t need to be told how to play, he didn’t need to be told to have faith, he certainly didn’t need to taught to have belief or commitment, it all came naturally to him, it came from within because he was a true winner, he had something that cannot be taught.
Big Tony Adams always used to repeat the words of Rocky to the Arsenal players new to the club:
The late great David Rocastle always used to say :
Always remember who you are,
what you are and Who you represent!
The only way to leave todays post is with a few tributes…..
Thank you to those who have over the years compiled the tributes for us Arsenal fans to view and thank you for letting us share them today, the day we remember and celebrate the life of a truly outstanding man and footballer.
Rest in Peace David ‘Rocky’ Rocastle, the true Arsenal fan will never forget you……..