PC Rathband killed himself last month after becoming blind in both eyes when he was shot twice by killer Raoul Moat in Northumberland in 2010.
Jean and Patrick Dale from Penrhyn Bay in North Wales ran a football club in Doxey, Stafford, when David and his twin Darren were teenagers. Patrick said: ”He (David) was one of the lads you couldn’t forget – he was a brilliant individual.”
“It’s just so sad that terrible thing happened and wrecked all his life.”
He added: “We knew him from when he was about 13, we ran a football club and both David and Darren played for us.”
Patrick’s wife Jean said: “When they were little I used to say ‘they’re a cocky pair’. That’s how they seemed, just full of life. They didn’t give a damn, they just came and played and enjoyed their life.”
The couple who attended Rathband’s funeral on Saturday (17th) were part of a 200 strong congregation of friends, relatives, members of the public and the emergency services.
Identical twin brother Darren made an emotional speech at the funeral which was relayed to the crowd outside. Jean said they had spoken to him the day before the funeral: ”He just said now he’s finally at rest he won’t suffer anymore. He asked us if we’d go to the wake afterwards to have a good talk about the footballing days.
“He even mentioned us in his speech, he said he remembered the happy days of playing football.”
Patrick talked about seeing David at an event for the Blue Lamp Foundation, the blinded policeman’s charity to help members of the emergency services injured by criminals whilst on duty: ”He said his most happy and best days were with Doxey McBell football. We were quite a close club – and there are quite a lot of people here today from the club.”