GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN
A feature where I pay tribute to ex Leeds United players who have sadly passed away, post 1970.
Number 2: DAVID ROCASTLE
David Rocastle was born on 2nd May 1967 in Lewisham.
He joined Leeds United, the Champions of England, in July 1992 in a £2 million deal from Arsenal. At the time, 'Rocky' was Leeds' record signing.
Rocastle had enjoyed an extremely successful time at Highbury, winning two League Championship medals, a League Cup winners medal and his stylish play also earned him England recognition.
It was maybe a surprise to some when he moved north to join Howard Wilkinson's Leeds United. Wilkinson was aware that the international midfielder was suffering from a knee problem, Arsenal never disguised the fact and the deal was completed.
Wilko had earmarked him as a replacement for Gordon Strachan. The facts are that Strachan was still going strong and Leeds' record signing barely got a look in.
Rocastle's first appearance came against VFB Stuttgart in the European Cup on the 16th of September, he was taken off at half time as Leeds crashed to a 3-0 defeat. He was an unused sub in the second leg, on an unforgettable night at Elland Road.
He next featured against Scunthorpe United in the League Cup second round, albeit an 89th minute substitute, replacing Scott Sellars.
The Elland Road faithful were scratching their heads as to why Rocastle, who was a popular figure, was being left out. Leeds form was indifferent and something wasn't quite right. Another of Wilko's summer signings, Scott Sellars, was in a very similar position.
Ironically, Rocky's Premier League debut came against Arsenal, he was outstanding in a 3-0 win. That was the first of only 17 starts in the domestic league.
His first goal for the club came in the 11th minute of a 1-0 win against Manchester City and he would score again, in a 4-0 thrashing of Chelsea the following season.
In December 1993, Rocastle's Leeds career was over. He joined Manchester City in a deal which saw David White move to Elland Road. His spell at City was just as frustrating and he was soon on the move again, back to London to play for Chelsea.
After loan spells at Norwich and Hull City, David Rocastle played in Malaysia for Sabah but retired through injury in December 1999.
In February 2001, Rocky announced he was suffering from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. After under going treatment he was hopeful of a full recovery but tragically, the lad who always played football with a smile on his face, passed away on the 31st of March 2001, aged just 33.
The football world was stunned and many tributes were paid. The David Rocastle Trust was founded and was chosen by Arsenal Football Club as their Charity for the 2005-06 season. Also, during that season, Arsenal declared the 1st of April as 'David Rocastle day', an emotional occasion for their game against Aston Villa.
David Rocastle, gone but not forgotten.