He is a footballer, first. Everything else flowed from that.
On that one, I could agree with Paul Hayward for once. For a man who was probably the most eponymous David of his generation, one who remained eternally grateful to a hard-earned gift that had gifted him all else he acquired in his life, battling constantly to be recognised for what he was first and foremost, a footballer, in a country that chose to devour him for all that he chose to pursue off the green pitch, that is indeed exorbitantly heartful praise.
His Achilles tendon may not be as critical to his country's sporting fates as a particular metatarsal once was, but then sport has an essence that transcends the triviality of victory and the tempestuousness of glory. It thrives on desire and the certitude of skill, the exaltation of the passing moment and the promise of eternity, piqued by the very lure of its impossibility. Sport is an art, if only for the unflinching passion it demands of its ardent practitioners and the diabolical heartbreaks it ever so enduringly alleviates, feeding on the fiery dreams it bestows its delicate wings upon, even for the hearts it so heartlessly tramples with the rigorous exactitude of the spiked imprints of its boots.
The world can, after all, be quite cruel to its conquerors merely for being what they are, its conquerors. Sport is not any different. To break a man so, life could be forgiven for giving in to its wily pettiness, its schadenfreude. The dream may not get another life but then maybe that's acceptable, for there's always memory to be turned to. For that's the glorious undeniability of sport, the immortality it confers on its everyday past, the spangled webs and the illuminated evening skies that constitute its history.
So long, David. You are, and always will be, a footballer in my heart.