David Carlyle Rocastle (2 May 1967 – 31 March 2001) was an English professional footballer, who played in the position of a Midfielder wherein the role as a playmaker as well as at times a winger.
He spent the majority's of his career at Arsenal where he was nicknamed "Rocky". Rocastle then went on to feature in the Premier League for Leeds United, Manchester City and Chelsea, before later playing in the Football League for Norwich City and Hull City and finishing his career in Malaysia with Sabah FA. Rocastle also played for the England national football team, in all earning 14 international caps for the Three Lions.
Arsene Wenger has described him as a " a modern player, because the revolution of the game has gone on to more technique, and more skill" and as having an "exceptional dimension as a footballer". Rocastle is seen as a universally popular, iconic and legendary figure by many fans of the Gooners, with his name being emblazoned upon that of the club's Emirates Stadium.
Rocastle was born at Lewisham on 2 May 1967 to Caribbean immigrant parents who came to England during the 1950s. His father died in 1972, when Rocastle was five years old. His mother Linda remarried.
Rocastle joined Arsenal in May 1982 and turned professional in December 1984. In his early career he faced problems with his eyesight, and contact lenses had to be used. According to his team mate Martin Keown "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?' and he couldn't. His eyesight was terrible. They sorted him out with contact lenses and his career took off."
He made his debut against Newcastle United and made 26 league appearances that season, scoring once as Arsenal finished seventh in the league. He remained a regular player in the first team following the departure of Don Howe and the appointment of George Graham as manager at the end of the 1985–86 season.
In 1987, just before his 20th birthday, he won a League Cup winners medal after Arsenal beat Liverpool in the final at Wembley. He was a member of the Arsenal side which reached the final against Luton Town the following year but Arsenal surrendered a 2–1 lead with only seven minutes of the final left to play, and ended up losing 3–2 to a last minute Luton goal. He was ever present in the league in 1987–88.
Rocastle won two league championship medals with Arsenal. The first came in 1989, when he played in every game. Arsenal's success was sealed when they beat Liverpool 2–0 in the final game of the season at Anfield, snatching the title from the hosts on goals scored. But Arsenal were unable to compete in the 1989–90 European Cup because the ban on English clubs in European competition after the 1985 Heysel tragedy still had one year to run. Arsenal finished fourth in the 1989–90 league season and missed out on a return to Europe because only the runners-up were entitled to a UEFA Cup place.
In 1990–91, Rocastle was limited to just 18 league appearances for Arsenal due to a knee injury but he still played his part in Arsenal winning the league championship – losing only one league game all season. The following season he played more than double that of the previous campaign, only missing three in that tourney and thus making 39 game appearances for the club and scoring four goals.
During his time with Arsenal, Rocastle was capped 14 times for England, but did not make the squad for either the 1990 World Cup or Euro 92, with Trevor Steven of Rangers' preferred instead. In 1992 he played his 14th and last game for England, and was not selected in the squad for Euro 92.
On 23 July 1992, after nearly a decade at Arsenal, Rocastle was sold to reigning league champions Leeds United, in a deal that several Arsenal fans and football writers saw as doltish, cold and woeful. This view stemmed from the way in which the midfielder was dealt with by manager George Graham, given his fine performances the season prior, his general popularity and the midfielders stated opposition to the deal.
The player's arrival at Leeds United made him, up to that point, the club's' most expensive signing at up to £2 million. Manager Howard Wilkinson saw Rocastle as an eventual replacement for the veteran midfielder Gordon Strachan.
With Leeds the midfielder entered the first-ever Premier League by winning the 1992 FA Charity Shield at Wembley. Rocastle, however, had his appearances somewhat diminished by a few injuries and that of competition from the likes of Elland Road's Gary Speed, Strachan and David Batty.
He was at the club until December 1993, when he moved to Maine Road for £2million as replacement for David White, who in turn had joined Leeds earlier that month.
In going to Manchester City Rocastle scored two goals from 21 Premier League games as City finished 16th – their lowest finish since winning promotion to the top flight in 1989. At the end of the season, manager Brian Horton signed the Swindon Town winger Nicky Summerbee (son of former City player Mike) and Rocastle's days at the club looked numbered.
So, just before the start of the 1994–95 season, he was transferred to Chelsea in a £1.25million deal. Given that his move to this club came prior to the coming into fruition of the rivalry between the blues and the reds of London, in 1994–95, Rocastle played without much ado in nearly 40 games for Chelsea and scored two goals.
One of such came in the 1995 European Cup Winners Cup against FK Viktoria Žižkov. and the other was scored in a League Cup win over that of Bournemouth. With Rocastle, in this European run, Chelsea reached the semi finals of the cup and lost to eventual winners Zaragoza by a single goal.
The following season his injuries returned, and he played just one more game for the club, away to Blackburn in October 1995. In 1996–97, after a summer trial at Hertha BSC Berlin and similar spells at Aberdeen and Southampton, Rocastle was loaned out to Norwich City and in 1997–98 had a brief spell on loan to Hull City in Division Three, scoring on his debut against Scarborough, but nothing came of either spell, and both times, he ended up back on the way to Stamford Bridge.
On completing his contract with Chelsea in 1998, Rocastle joined the Malaysian team Sabah on a free transfer but was unable to stay clear of injury and retired in December 1999.
After making two goalless appearances for the England 'B' side, Rocastle was capped 14 times for England at under-21 level during the 1980s, scoring twice. At the age of 21, he was capped at senior level for the first time against Denmark on 14 September 1988. His final appearance came on 17 May 1992, just after his 25th birthday, against Brazil. He had been capped 14 times for England at senior level and failed to score, but was never on the losing side as England won seven of the international games he appeared in and drew the other seven. He did not feature at the 1990 World Cup or 1992 European Championships, all of his appearance coming in friendlies or in qualifiers for the two major tournaments of that era.
Rocastle has three children, his son Ryan and daughters Melissa and Monique to wife Janet. He is the cousin of another professional footballer, Craig Rocastle, and his brother Stephen played for Norwich City and was on the books of Derry City F.C. as well.
In February 2001, Rocastle announced that 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 hopeful of a recovery. He died in the early hours of 31 March 2001, aged 33. Rocastle was survived by his wife and children.
Six weeks after Rocastle's death, his son Ryan was Arsenal's mascot in their FA Cup final match against Liverpool in which they took the lead but ended up losing 2–1 because of two last gasp goals by Michael Owen.
Five years and a day after his death, 1 April 2006 was designated "David Rocastle Day", as part of the themed matchday celebrations of Arsenal's final season at their stadium Highbury, a 5–0 win over Aston Villa. Fans paid tribute to Rocastle before the match with a minute's applause.
Arsenal also opened up a youth team indoor training facility named after him, as a tribute to his contributions to the club. Rocastle is also one of 32 Arsenal legends honoured by having their images painted on the side of the new Emirates Stadium. On 30 March 2013, Arsenal played a game which marked the 12-year anniversary of Rocastle's death. The fans sang his name throughout the first ten minutes, and his famous quote of "Remember who you are, what you are, and who you represent!" was shown on the screen. Just after this, Arsenal scored the first goal in a 4–1 victory over against Reading. The fans paid a similar tribute during Arsenal's 2 April 2016 match against Watford, marking the 15th anniversary of Rocastle's death.
The David Rocastle Trust
The David Rocastle Trust is a charity based in London, UK founded in memory of Rocastle. The charity, which was chosen by Arsenal F.C. as their club charity for the 2005–06 season, supports Rocastle's family as well as community projects and other registered charities.
- First Division: 1988–89, 1990–91
- Football League Cup: 1986–87
- FA Charity Shield: 1991 (shared)
- Football League Cup: 1987–88
- FA Charity Shield: 1989
With Leeds United
- FA Charity Shield: 1992
Runner-up: Makita Tournament 1992
- Arsenal Player of the Year -1986.
- Barclays Young Eagle - 1987
- PFA Team of the Year 1987
- PFA Team of the Year 1989
- "Makita Tournament Results 1988-1994". RSSSF.com.
- ^ "15 Excellent photos of David Rocastle in his prime". Who Ate All The Pies.tv.
- "David Rocastle: Barclays Young Eagle Award". Getty Images.com.
- Lynch. The Official P.F.A Footballers Heroes. p. 143.
|Club performance||League||Cup||League Cup||Continental||Total|
|England||League||FA Cup||League Cup||Europe||Total|
|1992–93||Leeds United||Premier League||18||1|
|1993–94||Manchester City||Premier League||21||2|
|1996–97||Norwich City||First Division||11||0|
|1997–98||Hull City||Third Division||11||1|
|Malaysia||League||FAM Cup||Malaysia Cup||Asia||Total|