Is Bukayo Saka the Rocastle regen?
Many people who know me, who’ve listened to me before on my podcast or those of my friends know that my favourite player is David Rocastle. He’s the reason I love Arsenal as much as I do. The days of watching him from the North Bank are the most cherished for me as my love just grew and grew every single week. I was at a The Den in 1989, no more than 10 metres away from Rocky when he was so close to losing his life right in front of me.
It was a 2-1 win for Arsenal over Millwall, Rocky collapsed and ended up swallowing his tongue which stopped him from breathing. The idiot referee didn’t even stop the game but luckily we had Gary Lewin who recognised very quickly that something was not right. He sprinted onto the pitch and saved David’s life, having to break Rocky’s jaw to remove the obstruction from his throat. I was only 16, but probably too old to cry, but tears were falling down my cheeks as I thought I’d witnessed my hero pass right in front of my eyes. I’ll forever be grateful to Gary Lewin for that day, he too is a big hero. As I was growing up, Liverpool won everything, they were so dominant they made Mr Grey look like a submissive.
They also had John Barnes, a player who scared me to death. He was one of the best players I’ve ever seen live in his pomp. He was a great player, he was on loads of TV adverts, he was scoring better goals for England vs Brazil than Brazilians could dream of scoring, but best of all, he could rap. I hated him.
However, in front of my eyes I watched Rocky Rocastle become our own Johnny Barnes. Rocky had everything, pace, power, strength, immense grace and skill on the ball fight, aggression and dashing good looks. He grew up as we know on the Honor Oak Estate in Brockley where my eldest sister lived and which was just a mile away from my school and house. He really was one of my own. My school was arch rivals with his school at everything, but I wished I’d gone there.
Rocky was a better all round player than John Barnes and I couldn’t be more proud of him. I loved him so much he made me laugh, smile and cry. I still miss him so much every day of my life. But now we have so much more to be thankful for coming from our own academy. We have Bukayo Saka and ESR (and Azeez!). But it’s Bukayo Saka who is the heir apparent to David Rocastle. I have the same feeling with him as I did as a teenager watching my beloved Rocky.
As was David, Bukayo is such a lovely, well brought up, intelligent, bright, modest and handsome young man with immense talent. Look back to the skillset I listed for Rocky earlier and Saka has it all at such a young age too. I feel so much pride, pleasure and excitement watching him play and wear Rocky’s number 7 shirt. Seeing him tasked with taking the final penalty in the European Championship final and having it saved, I had to choke away the tears, seeing him break down in front of the TV cameras as I did in 89 at the Den.
The abhorrent, disgusting, vile abuse online only moments after the final whistle by the scumbag racist bastards towards our boy as well as Sancho and Rashford made me feel like they were targeting my own son I was that angry. That’s why I feel like Bukayo Saka is the closest thing to David Rocastle we’ve been lucky enough to have at Arsenal. We must treasure every chance we have to watch him play because he, along with the other academy players we have at the moment, are who we will still remember in 30 years time more than any other players who come and go.