Born in Scotland in 1962, David Mitchell started his football career with local club Enfield. In 1980 he joined Adelaide City as a striker-winger in the National League before switching to Sydney City in 1983 for two seasons.Mitchell played a total of 108 national league matches, scoring 33 goals. In 1981 he was named NSL Under 21 Player of the Year. Mitchell become a modern-day pioneer for Australian soccer players in Europe, representing several high-profile clubs including Glasgow Rangers, Eintracht Frankfurt, Feyenoord, Chelsea and Newcastle United. He became the first Australian to play in the Scottish Premier League, German Bundesliga and the Dutch Premier League. Mitchell was also the first Socceroo to score in a European club competition.
Mitchell represented Australia at the 1981 FIFA World Youth Championship in Australia and the 1988 Olympics in Seoul. Following his debut in 1981 aged just 18, Mitchell went on to enjoy a successful 12-year career with the Socceroos. He represented Australia on 44 occasions, scoring 15 goals, including 29 full internationals for 11 goals. He was the first Australian to play in four senior World Cup campaigns (1982-1994). His insistence on playing for his country cost him club positions in Europe and he only joined clubs that would grant him clearance to play for Australia.
As a coach, he managed Sydney Olympic, Sydney United and Parramatta Power in the national league. In 1999 he won Coach of the Year after taking Sydney United to the championship that year.