In Memory of Arsenal legend David Rocastle on the Anniversary of his passing

The death of “Rocky” Rocastle 23 years later- gone but never forgotten

Yesterday marks 23 years since Arsenal and the footballing community lost one of its greatest players in the name of David Rocastle.

On March 31st 2001 aged 33 Rocastle died of non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma after having only been diagnosed with the illness a month earlier. A charity was set up in his name “The David Rocastle Trust” from 2005-2010 which helped support the education of young people closely linked to non-Hodkin’s Lymphoma. Within a year of being created it was Arsena’s charity for the 2005/06 campaign.

The midfielder played a pivotal role in helping Arsenal secure their first league title in 1989 after 18 years at Anfield on the final day of the season. The Gunners had to beat Liverpool by two goals to achieve the Championship which they eventually did, after Michael Thomas snatched the second in the dying moments of the 2-0 win. Rocastle quizzed the referee about how long the game had left in which the referee responded with 30 seconds, instead of 20 minutes thought by Rocky. The 1988/89 season also saw the hard working and relentless midfielder handed the best Young Player of the Year award in England.

Rocastle was known for his creative abilities in terms of crafting game changing opportunities for his side during matches. He helped The Gunners earn themselves a second First Division Championship under George Graham in 1991.

After seven years at Arsenal, Rocastle moved to First Division side Leeds United in 1992 as the priciest footballer brought by the club at the time for £2 million.

Just having played a season at Elland Road, Rocastle moved to Manchester City for only the duration of the 1993/94 campaign.

After struggling to adjust to either side he moved back down south to one of Arsenals biggest rivals Chelsea where he remained from 1994 to 1998. However despite being back in the capital again he struggled to shine as he had done beforehand during one of Arsenals heyday periods.

For the many fans who believed his days were over as a player at Chelsea Rocastle fired back righteously. He declared “Whatever happens in life from now on no one will be able to take away what I achieved. You can’t live in the past while you’re still playing but after you’ve finished no one will be able to take away the fact that I played that night at Anfield in 89.”

An even trickier time at the Blues forced Rocastle to play abroad in Malaysia for the 1998/99 season before falling prey to his own ill health a couple of years later.

Arsenal fans will forever remember Rocastle for eternity for his solid unwavering commitment to the club during his playing days at Highbury spanning nearly a decade from 1985 to 1992, where he made 218 games scoring 24 times.

Arsene Wenger later stated that Rocastle was “a modern player because the revolution of the game has gone onto more technique, and more skill.”

In Memory of an unforgotten Highbury Hero

Liam Harding


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  1. I loved thos guy
    He was one of a few core players who got us off Our seat
    I was heart broken when we sold him and never understood why
    If I remember correctly he was out injured bit came back with a bang and then was sold
    Him, Michael Thomas ect were shipped off when they were in there prime
    Never understood that
    RIP rocky and thank you for the memories

  2. Me and my mates were sitting in the East Upper for his debut against Newcastle. A terrible boring 0-0 game that was only lit up by a run by Rocky. He got the ball outside of our penalty area and went on a mazy run towards the Clockend, beating about 5 players. No wonder David Dein had previously compared him to a Brazilian.

    Remember who you are, what you are, and who you represent.

    R.I.P Rocky.

  3. I thoroughly recommend everybody watch the documentary “Rocky and Wrighty – from Brockley to the Big Time”. You should be able to find it on You Tube. In fond rememberence of David, taken from us too soon.
    RIP David “Rocky” Rocastle

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