Dwight Yorke, the former Manchester United forward whose goals led the club to 1999 treble glory, has retired from football at the age of 37 and intends to become a coach. He is to take up the post of assistant manager of the Trinidad and Tobago national team as a first step into coaching. Yorke’s contract with Sunderland – his final club – was not renewed at the end of last season.
“It’s time to hang up my boots,” said the striker who scored 64 goals in 151 appearances for United.
“While I’m still in great shape, I’m not getting any younger. I’ve had the time of my life. I hope people will say that I played the game in the right way with a smile on my face.
“I’ve been blessed really. I’ve played alongside some of the greatest players the Premier League has ever seen in Roy Keane, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, David Beckham, Peter Schmeichel, and played for the greatest manager in Alex Ferguson.”
Yorke eventually fell out with Sir Alex Ferguson over the player’s excessive lifestyle, but the player contributed fully to one of the most successful periods in United’s history between 1998 and 2002. In the player’s first three seasons the club won an unprecedented three Premier League trophies in a row and the 1999 European Cup.
It was Yorke’s partnership with Andy Cole that the Trinidad and Tobago international will be best remembered for. Yorke finished top scorer in the 1999 season and the combination proved devastating. Famously the pair one-two’ed its way through the Barcelona defence on way to United’s 3-3 draw in the Noup Camp.
It was a great return for Yorke, the man from the tiny island, who arrived at Old Trafford after nearly 10 years at Aston Villa. Despite leaving the club for United in a contentious £12.6 million deal – and later playing for Birmingham City – Yorke is still held in high esteem at Villa Park as one of their greatest ever players. So he should be. Yorke has always been the player with a smile on his face. Talented but also very much a man of the people.
Yorke’s off-the-field activities and the arrival of Ruud van Nistelrooy put paid to his United career after four seasons. The forward’s relationship with ‘model’ Jordan, with whom he had a son, was played out in the public through the tabloids – a scenario that Ferguson is never happy with.
The player was eventually sold for £2 million to Blackburn in the summer of 2002 but it was a sad end to a wonderful, if short, United career. He played out his days with Blackburn, Birmingham, Sydney FC and then Sunderland – reinventing himself as a deep lying midfielder late in his career.
But for such patriotic man it is perhaps the 2006 World Cup finals in Germany that was Yorke’s proudest moment. He captained the tiny Trinidad and Tobago to thier first tournament.
“I’ll always count myself lucky,” said Yorke.
“I was a boy on a beach from a little Caribbean island that got the chance to fulfil his dream of winning trophies at the highest level and captaining his country in their first ever World Cup Finals.”