Ian Wright, as told by Melissa Rocastle


Ian Wright, as told by Melissa Rocastle

David Rocastle and Ian Wright embrace at Upton Park in 1992

Ian Wright turns 60 on Friday, November 3.

To celebrate our club legend’s milestone birthday, we’ve reached out to members of our Arsenal community with long-standing connections to Ian.

Next up is Melissa Rocastle, the eldest daughter of the late David. David and Ian grew up together in Brockley and, having become childhood best friends, were reunited on the pitch when Ian signed for us in 1991.

By Melissa Rocastle

I’ve known Uncle Ian for my entire life - so much so that he features in some of my very earliest memories.

There’s one family holiday I can especially remember - a Disney holiday in the United States.

Looking back, all the adults on that holiday were still in their 20s but it was probably more of a holiday for them, than it was for myself and my brother, Ryan. We had so much fun on that trip.

I saw a lot of Ian when I was growing up. To be honest, when we were kids, the football world was a bit different to our everyday lives and took place at the weekend where we’d often spend time with other families who we were connected to by the sport. We were too young when Dad and Ian played together at Arsenal - but their relationship continued beyond football. Dad and Ian loved the same music - they’d go to each other’s houses and just listen to a lot of reggae at the time. They had this lovely friendship that went far beyond football.

They would naturally watch a lot of football together - and other sports too. When we were in America, Dad and Ian would stay up late watching basketball and catching up. I have these memories of the family having Chinese takeaways with Ian on a Saturday night. Either he’d come to our house, or we’d go to his. Most of our get togethers were made up of two key elements: sport and food. We’d spend the evening together just chilling out and watching whatever football was on the TV.

Ian Wright, David Rocastle, Paul Merson and Alan Smith celebrate at Southampton in 1991

We actually went back to the States with Ian and his family the year Dad passed away. Dad passed in March and we went away that summer. I realise now that we all probably needed that holiday more than we realised back then and to this day we still talk about it with Ian, Stacy and Bobbi, his children.

I’ll never forget, when the holiday was over, Ian told us all - Ryan, Monique, and myself - to take his number. Prior to that, our relationship with him naturally went through Mum and Dad. But he told us if we ever needed anything at all, we just had to call him. And to this day, he’s always there.

When we meet up now, we’ll remember things and talk about memories of Dad and I can see his face light up. It’s a two-way relationship and it’s really nice to remember Dad.

We went back to Brockley with Ian recently, when he opened the Rocky & Wrighty Arena in Honor Oak, where both he and Dad grew up. My uncle Steve - Dad’s brother - came down and it was so nice to see him talking to Ian about their childhood days. We don’t have those memories so to hear them talking about them was lovely.

Ian often talks about Dad - and you can tell that everything he says comes from the heart. That means so much to us. It’s really nice that he keeps Dad’s legacy alive especially with the younger generation who wouldn’t have seen Dad play.

As I said, we’re thankful to have Ian in our lives - he’s like family to us and we know he’ll always be there for us.

So Uncle Ian, on behalf of Mum, Ryan, Monique and I, we’d like to wish you a very happy 60th birthday. You work incredibly hard - so I hope you’re taking some time off to enjoy yourself and relax. We love you lots.

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