Rocky embodied all that it meant to play for Arsenal

By Avenell Dave

How many great players have Arsenal had over the past 40 years?

The truth is, too many to mention.

But few get the same level of respect, admiration and, dare I say it, love, that David Rocastle still inspires.

When he broke into the side, we knew immediately that we had a proper player on our hands.

He had pace, he had flair, he had a fierce shot and an even more fierce tackle and we knew we always had a chance with him in the side. 

A video of his performances should be shown to all Arsenal players current and new - to show them what it means to play for The Arsenal.

Arguably, he was the reason why we're such a big club today.

When he came through, along with Tony Adams, Michael Thomas, Martin Hayes, Niall Quinn and slightly later, Kevin Campbell, he was the heartbeat of the side.

He kept things moving, ticking over - always looking forward and trying to take someone on - and usually succeeding.

He sucked so many players to him because it took half a dozen at times just to hold him off.

When heads were dropping, he would punch his fist and rouse his teammates or take the game by the scruff of the neck.

When you see the lacklustre, indifferent attitude too many of the current team display today, you wish we had a Rocky in the side. That sort of attitude simply wouldn't be allowed.

I wrote to George Graham on a number of occasions as a young fan and whether he wrote the letters personally or not, I received a reply.

He assured me that Rocky was the heart of the club, the heart of the team, and would not be sold under any circumstances.

A few weeks later, Leeds signed him and I was heartbroken.

Who knows why Rocky was let go - and the rest of his career never quite lived up to the heights he enjoyed at Arsenal.

But even when he was playinhg for Leeds or Chelsea, we still loved him.

He was always one of us.

I was in the car when Ian Wright broke the news on BBC Five Live radio that Rocky had died and I had to pull over, having burst into tears.

Like so many others, I simply hadn't considered that the cancer he was suffering from would be life-threatening.

It says it all that even T*tt*nh*m fans that day adhered to the silence at Highbury.

Rocky was a gentleman and an example every footballer could learn from today about how to conduct yourself on and off the pitch.

Gone, but never forgotten.

Rocky, we will always love you.