Dwight's right for Warriors


Dwight Yorke is the most famous player to emerge from Trinidad & Tobago. He came out of retirement to lead his nation to victory in the World Cup play-off against Bahrain and thereby secured for his tiny nation a first-time berth in the biggest sporting event, writes Andy Hampson.

Dwight Yorke is the instantly recognisable, often smiling character leading Trinidad and Tobago in their first World Cup finals. A highly talented striker who made his name in the Barclays English Premier League with Aston Villa and Manchester United, Yorke has led a colourful life both on and off the pitch. He is feted as a hero in the Caribbean and is regarded as a model professional in Australia, where he is now plying his trade in the new A-League. In England, however, he was as big a player on the celebrity circuit as he was on the field.

His exciting talent at times lit up the Barclays English Premier League, particularly during his United days, but his partying lifestyle often attracted as much attention.

Yorke was born in Tobago and led an active childhood. He showed talent for a number of sports and was a childhood friend of cricket legend Brian Lara — no mean footballer himself — but it was football that proved his best sport. His big break came when he was spotted by Aston Villa manager Graham Taylor during a tour of the West Indies in 1989. Yorke was a prot�g� of Bertille St Clair, who went on to coach Trinidad and Tobago. Yorke played under him at Signal Hill School near Scarborough in Tobago and then at the academy St Clair set up in his name.

Villa paid GBP 120,000 for Yorke and would later sell him for GBP 12.6 million. Yorke made his Villa debut in 1990 — against United — and impressed with his pace and trickery. His first few years at Villa Park were spent as a winger and it was not until he switched to a forward role in 1995 that he truly began to establish himself as a Premier League heavyweight. He helped Villa win the Coca-Cola Cup in 1996, scoring in the final against Leeds, and netted 20 goals the following season. After another 15 the next year, United moved in to take him to Old Trafford in a deal which angered then Villa boss John Gregory.

Yorke did not dwell on whether his decision to leave was a show of disloyalty or not and made an immediate impression at United. His partnership with Andy Cole proved prolific and the pair were deadly as United won the treble of Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup in 1999. Yorke was the Barclays English Premier League's joint-top scorer that season.

Yorke's time at United, and particularly his relationship with manager Sir Alex Ferguson, eventually turned sour and the arrival of Dutch striker Ruud van Nistelrooy in 2001 precipitated his departure.

His career in England was never the same again. He moved to Blackburn with Cole in 2002 but the pair were unable to rekindle their dynamic partnership. He then had an uninspiring one-year spell at Birmingham but was released last year. His career has since resumed impressively in Australia. He won the A-League title in his first season and was made captain.

Yorke is the most famous player to emerge from Trinidad and Tobago and has a stadium named after him in his homeland. He did retire from international football in 2001 after a dispute with the coach but was tempted back by St Clair. He certainly did not regret the decision, as he led Trinidad & Tobago to victory in the World Cup play-off match against Bahrain and thereby secured for his tiny nation a first-time berth in the biggest sporting event of them all, the FIFA World Cup.

Yorke played in the central midfield in the qualifying campaign, and he continues to man the influential position in Germany, where his team, reduced to 10 men, achieved a creditable goalless draw in its opening match against a Swedish strike force led by Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Henrik Larsson.

Yorke is renowned for his love of the high life and it has often landed him in trouble. His liking for nightclubs and pretty women made him perfect gossip material for England's newspapers and this eventually alienated him from Ferguson. The United boss has a long history of discarding players who cross him and Yorke's antics irritated him once too often.

Ferguson felt Yorke's high-profile relationship with the equally fast-living model Jordan was affecting his performances and he was often left out of the side. It came as little surprise when he was shipped out to Rovers for GBP 2 million.

Yorke has dated a string of famous women, the most high-profile being Jordan, with whom he had a child. He left Jordan before their baby, Harvey, was born and she has not been too complimentary about him since. At first Yorke denied he was the father and it took a DNA test to prove he was.

Yorke's playboy lifestyle does, of course, extend to fast cars. In 2002 he was caught speeding in England, doing 85mph in a 70mph zone in his Mercedes CL500. He was cleared, however, on a technicality after taking the case to court and police were unable to prove they had followed correct procedure. He was involved in another incident last year when it was alleged he ran off the road and struck two people on a beach in Trinidad. As a child, he was also hit by a car himself.

FACTFILE Position: Striker Club: Sydney FC DOB: November 3, 1971 Trinidad & Tobago Caps: 53 Trinidad & Tobago Goals: 15 Trinidad & Tobago Debut: v USA, May 1989.

Moments to remember: Yorke emerged from a twomonth goal drought in emphatic style in March 2000 when he netted a hat-trick as United beat Derby 3-1 to move a step closer to the Premier League title. However, his best moment was when Trinidad & Tobago booked their place in Germany with the play-off win against Bahrain.

Moment to forget: United were bundled out of the FA Cup 2-0 by Middlesbrough in January 2002 with out-offavour Yorke unable to make an impact after coming on as a late substitute. Days later he turned down a move to Boro and effectively scuppered United's chances of signing Paolo Di Canio. He never played for United again.

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