Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
On leaving school in the summer of 1983 he joined Arsenal as an apprentice and spent two years in the youth team before signing a professional contract just before the start of the 1985-86 season. He made his debut against Newcastle United and soon became a regular member of the first team. 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 and ended up losing 3-2 to a last minute Luton goal.
Rocastle won two league championship medals with Arsenal. The first came in 1989, when he played in almost 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 of the hosts on goal difference. But Arsenal were unable to compete in the 1989-90 European Champions 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, a knee injury restricted David Rocastle to just 18 league appearances for Arsenal but he still played his part in Arsenal winning the league championship - losing only one league game all season. The following season he only missed three out of 42 league games.
During his time with Arsenal, David Rocastle was capped 14 times for England and although he did not score any goals he was never on the losing side and looked set for a long and successful international career. But in 1992 he played his 14th and last game for England.
At the end of 1991-92, David Rocastle was sold to league champions Leeds United in a £2million deal. Manager Howard Wilkinson saw Rocastle as an eventual replacement for the veteran Gordon Strachan as Leeds entered the first-ever Premier League, but in fact Strachan still had three more seasons left as a regular player at Elland Road. Rocastle, meanwhile, was kept out of the side by both injury and competition from other players. He was at the club until December 1993, when he was transferred to Manchester City for £2million as replacement for David White, who in turn had joined Leeds earlier that month.
But the move to Maine Road was not a success for Rocastle. At the end of the season, manager Brian Horton snapped up the Swindon 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.
In 1994-95, David Rocastle played in nearly 40 games for Chelsea and scored two goals in the European Cup Winners Cup, in which Chelsea reached the semi finals and lost to eventual winners Zaragoza by a single goal. The following season his injuries returned and he played just one game for the club in October 1995 against Blackburn, although he remained on the club's pay roll until his contract expired in the summer of 1998. In 1996-97 Rocastle was loaned out to Norwich City and in 1997-98 had a brief spell on loan to Hull City, but nothing came of either spell and both times he ended up back in the Stamford Bridge reserve team.
On completing his contract with Chelsea in 1998, David Rocastle joined the Malaysian team Selangor on a free transfer but was unable to stay clear of injury and retired after just one season.
In February 2001, David 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 for the illness and was hopeful of a recovery. But he died on 31st March 2001, aged only 33, and was buried six days later after a funeral service attended by many well known footballers of the past and the present.
David Rocastle was survived by his wife Janet, son Ryan and daughters Melissa and Monique. Six weeks after David 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.
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