To mark 20 years since David Rocastle's passing, the official matchday programme for the Liverpool game has been guest edited by the Rocastle family.
They have taken the time to speak to some of David's closest friends and team-mates, and you can read extracts from their tributes to him below.
Me and Dave came through the ranks together, playing in district teams, it was a special journey with so many incredible moments that we could share with each other. Dave was humble, he had everything, he was so talented but he had time for everyone and that is what I Ioved about him. He was special like that – he didn’t see himself as bigger than any other person, in his eyes he was just a young kid from Brockley who had time for everyone else. He had such hunger and love for the club and playing for Arsenal – putting on the shirt – that was his team!
One of the most memorable moments of my career involved Rocky, but it was actually away from the pitch. Penny (my wife) and I went down for the Arsenal end-of =0season dinner at the Hilton in Park Lane at the end of the 1986/87 season. I was joining the club at the start of the next season and we were sat there with other couples. Rocky came over to introduce himself, welcomed me, said how delighted they were to have me at the club and said if there’s anything he can do for me please ask. Pen and I spoke afterwards in the car, almost gobsmacked at that particular interaction. Rocky spoke as if he was the 30 year old club captain and senior man, yet he was 20 years old! He was so mature, so charming and so polite. That was our first experience and we hit it off right from that point.
I’d say it was a mixture of an older brother/uncle type of relationship. I was five years older than Dave so I like to think he saw me as a bit of a role model.I wanted to be able to support all of our players, but in particular the young black lads that were coming through from the same part of town as me. It made me feel good that I was someone Dave thought he could look up to, but to be honest he could look after himself. He’s a London boy, so trust me, he could look after himself on and off the pitch, but people just loved him in terms of his personality and his enthusiasm.
You saw something in me I couldn’t even see in myself. It got to a point where I stopped turning up to those sessions because I knew you would be there, hounding me with the same message. If I’m being honest, I was embarrassed. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become someone that young players and parents speak to and ask for advice. It’s not something I take lightly. I think about what you would have said to them, what you said to me, the things you told me to improve. As much as the game has changed, it’s still the same. We weren’t just friends, we were brothers. You would come to watch me play for Palace religiously. And then Arsenal happened. Think about how many times we acted out being in the same team one day. Wright to Rocastle. Rocastle back to Wright. Two Brockley boys.
I am just so grateful I got an opportunity to say goodbye to him. We were playing Aston Villa away – I was injured and in hindsight I’m so glad I was because it allowed me to go to the hospital and give him a big hug. He died a week or so after that. It was extremely difficult to say goodbye to what was basically a 20-year relationship. He was courageous to the end and I have loads of memories but the emotion of that one has stayed with me. We had so many highs, on and off the field, especially at Anfield in 1989 and him coming to my wedding but that final one of saying goodbye, just me and him, will stay with me forever.
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