David Rocastle

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David Rocastle
Rocky Rocastle.jpg
Personal information
Full name David Carlyle Rocastle[1]
Date of birth (1967-05-02)2 May 1967[1]
Place of birth Lewisham, London, England[1]
Date of death 31 March 2001(2001-03-31) (aged 33)[1]
Place of death Slough, Berkshire, England[1]
Height 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)
Playing position Midfielder
Youth career
1982–1985 Arsenal
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1984–1992 Arsenal 228 (23)
1992–1993 Leeds United 25 (2)
1993–1994 Manchester City 21 (2)
1994–1998 Chelsea 29 (0)
1997 Norwich City (loan) 11 (0)
1997 Hull City (loan) 11 (1)
1999 Sabah ? (?)
Total 325 (28)
National team
1986–1988 England U21 14 (2)
1988–1992 England B 2 (0)
1988–1992 England 14 (0)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

David Carlyle Rocastle (2 May 1967 – 31 March 2001) was an English professional footballer who played as a midfielder in the roles of a playmaker and a winger.[2][3]

He spent the majority 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.[2]

Arsène 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. He thus has the David Rocastle indoor centre at Arsenal's academy in homage to him, with his name also being emblazoned in tribute upon that of the club's Emirates Stadium.[4][5]

Playing career[edit]

Rocastle was born in Lewisham on 2 May 1967 to Caribbean immigrants who came to England during the 1950s.[6] His father died in 1972 when Rocastle was five years old, and his mother Linda subsequently remarried. Rocastle attended the Turnham Primary School and the Roger Manwood secondary school in his teenage years.[7]


Rocastle joined Arsenal's Academy in May 1982 and turned professional in December 1984.[8] In his early career he faced problems with his eyesight, and contact lenses had to be used. According to his teammate 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."[9]

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.[10]

In January 1987, Arsenal were host to Manchester United at Old Trafford. During the match Rocastle was sent off for retailating to a tackle by United midfielder Norman Whiteside, a move which caused a huge scuffle between several of the opposing players. This scenario has been illustrated by many as the start of the Arsenal and Man United rivalry.[11][12]

Rocastle went on to score the winning goal in the 1987–88 League Cup semi-final which was won by a margin of 2 goals to 1 against Tottenham Hotspur at Highbury. As so, just before his 20th birthday on 5 April 1987, he won a 1986–87 League Cup winners medal as Arsenal beat Liverpool 2–1 in the cup final at Wembley.[13] Due to his feats during this season, Rocastle was bestowed with the honour of being named in 1987's PFA Team of the Year and as well won the 1987 Barclays Young Eagle award.[14] In the following season, he was again an influential member of the Arsenal side which reached the 1987–88 League Cup final against Luton Town the following year. In the game 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.[15] He was as well ever present for the gunners in that, the 1987–88 footballing season, helping Arsenal win the Football League Centenary Trophy in a 2–1 win over Manchester United.[16]

Rocastle's first league championship with Arsenal came in 1989, when he played in every game of that season's campaign. 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. As so Rocastle won the Barclays Young Eagle award, being once again bestowed with the honour in 1989. Arsenal were howbeit 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 went on to finish fourth in the 1989–90 league season, missing out on a return to Europe as only the runners-up were entitled to a UEFA Cup place.[8][7][17]

In 1990–91, Rocastle was limited to just 18 league appearances due to a knee injury but he still played his part in Arsenal, who lost only one game that season, winning the league championship. The following season, he played more than double thended[clarification needed] games of the previous campaign, only missing three in comparison. All in all, he made 39 appearances for the club, netting four goals throughout that season. Altogether Rocastle scored 34 goals and played 228 times for Arsenal.[18]

Leeds United[edit]

On 23 July 1992, after a decade at Arsenal, Rocastle was sold to reigning league champions Leeds United, in a deal that several Arsenal fans, teammates 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 player's stated opposition to the deal.[19][20][21]

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.[2] He went on to make his debut for the club in a European Cup tie away to Bundesliga side VFB Stuttgart. Rocastle soon became a club favourite with him often being stylish and skillful upon the field of play. Rocastle as well scored in a 4–1 league victory over club rivals Chelsea in November 1993. Altogether Rocastle played 34 times for Leeds, scoring two goals.[22][23]

Manchester City[edit]

He was at the club until December 1993, when he moved to Maine Road for £2 million 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.


Just before the start of the 1994–95 season, he was transferred to Chelsea in a £1.25 million deal. Rocastle played 37 times for Chelsea and scored two goals in his time there.[24][25][26][27] One of these came in a League Cup win over Bournemouth with the other being netted in a 1995 European Cup Winners Cup's first-round game against FK Viktoria Žižkov. With the influential Rocastle in tow Chelsea reached the semi finals of the European cup, going out to eventual winners Real Zaragoza by a single goal on aggregate.[28][29][30]

The following season he began battling injuries and played just once for the club, away to Blackburn in October 1995. In 1996–97, after summer trials at Hertha BSC Berlin, Aberdeen and Southampton, Rocastle was loaned out to Norwich City. After this stint in 1997–98 he had another spell on loan to Hull City where he scored on his debut against Scarborough.[31]

Sabah FA[edit]

Rocastle eventually left Chelsea in the summer of 1998 to join up with Malaysian team Sabah on a free transfer. He quickly became a highly influential and popular player at the club. Rocastle then saw Sabah upon a memorable run to the 1998 Malaysian FA Cup final where he earned a runners up medal. He eventually brought his playing days to an end in December 1999 due to injury.[7][32]

International career[edit]

After making two appearances for the England 'B' side, Rocastle was capped 14 times at under-21 level for England, scoring twice. Whilst playing for the Young Lions, he earned a runners up medal in the 1988 Toulon Tournament and got to the UEFA European Under-21 Championship semi finals of the same year.[33][34]

At the age of 21, he was capped at senior level for the first time against Denmark on 14 September 1988. Rocastle never found himself on the losing side as England won seven of the internationals that he appeared in and drew the other seven. He surprisingly didn't feature at either the World Cup of 1990 or 1992 Euros. His final appearance for England came just after his 25th birthday upon 17 May 1992 against Brazil. Altogether Rocastle was capped a sum of 14 times for the Three Lions.[35][36][37]

Illness and death[edit]

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, a match in which they took the lead but ultimately lost 2–1, after late goals by Michael Owen.

Five years and a day after his passing, 1 April 2006 was designated "David Rocastle Day", as part of the themed celebrations of Arsenal's final season at their stadium of Highbury. Upon the day a league game was played which saw a brace from Thierry Henry in an eventual 5–0 win for Arsenal over Aston Villa.[38] Fans paid tribute to Rocastle before the start of the match with a minute's applause.[39]

Arsenal also has a training facility at the club's academy located at Hale End in Walthamstow, London that was named after Rocastle. The David Rocastle indoor centre, of which was opened up in August 2006, thus serves as another tribute to the player's contributions to the club.[5] Rocastle is also one of 32 Arsenal legends honoured by having their images illustrated 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 in the match against Reading.[39] Hull City paid tribute to Rocastle by erecting a sign in his honour at the KC Stadium for their league match against Arsenal in May 2015.[40] On 2 April 2016 Arsenal's fans paid another similar tribute to him at the Emirates during Arsenal's match against Watford which marked the 15th anniversary of Rocastle's loss.[39]

Personal life[edit]

Rocastle has three children, his son Ryan and daughters Melissa and Monique to wife Janet.[41] 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.

The David Rocastle Trust[edit]

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.[42]




[2][7] Winner:

Leeds United[edit]

[2] Winner:





Career statistics[edit]


Club performance League Cup League Cup Continental Total
Season Club League Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
England League FA Cup League Cup Europe Total
1985–86 Arsenal First Division 26 1
1986–87 36 2
1987–88 40 6
1988–89 38 6
1989–90 33 2
1990–91 18 2
1991–92 39 4
1992–93 Leeds United Premier League 18 1
1993–94 7 1
1993–94 Manchester City Premier League 21 2
1994–95 Chelsea Premier League 28 0
1995–96 1 0
1996–97 Norwich City First Division 11 0
1997–98 Hull City Third Division 11 1
Malaysia League FAM Cup Malaysia Cup Asia Total
1998 Sabah
Total England 325 28
Career total


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External links[edit]