“IT’S a privilege being here in Guyana as the Brand Ambassador for FIFA and of course our major sponsor Coca Cola, who has made this trip possible. It is also tough to stand next to it and cannot touch it, since it is the lone trophy that has eluded me.”
Those were the words of former Trinidad and Tobago captain and Manchester United striker Dwight Yorke, who was at the time giving brief remarks in the Arrival Lounge of the Cheddi Jagan International Airport yesterday morning, heralding at the same time the arrival of the FIFA World Cup Trophy to these shores.
Yorke, along with FIFA’s Brad Cross and a high level security team, is currently accompanying the trophy on its 89-country tour, with Guyana being the penultimate stop in the Caribbean, with Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) being the final stop.
During his playing days, the 41-year-old Yorke played for Aston Villa, Manchester United, Blackburn Rovers, Birmingham City, Sydney FC and Sunderland respectively, while he was the assistant manager of the T&T national team until the completion of the qualifying matches for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
He was first discovered by Graham Taylor, at the time the Aston Villa manager, on a tour of the West Indies in 1989, when he appeared in a team that played a friendly match against Aston Villa, impressing Taylor who immediately offered him a trial at Villa.
Yorke was an integral member of the Villa team that reached the League Cup Final in 1996, which they won 3–0 against Leeds United with Yorke getting on the scoresheet and on September 30 1996, he scored a hat-trick against Newcastle United in a 4–3 defeat, after Newcastle were leading 3–1 at halftime against a 10-man Aston Villa lineup.
In his first season with Manchester United, Yorke was a key player in guiding his club to a unique treble of the Premiership title, FA Cup and UEFA Champions League, and forming a legendary partnership with Andy Cole.
Yorke finished the season as the top league goalscorer with 18 goals and contributed goals against Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Internazionale and Juventus in the Champions League and was also a regular member of United’s 1999–2000 title-winning team, contributing 22 goals in all competitions.
“Touring around the Caribbean and seeing the look on people’s face in the past few days, tells me a lot. Just to see the joy and the sort of look … so to speak … when we presented the trophies in all these various Caribbean countries is a wonderful thing.
Today is a special day for Guyana and Guyanese. I must say congratulations after you defeated T&T in a World Cup qualifier under the guidance of the Trinidadian coach, which goes to show the passion here in Guyana for football, even though we know that cricket is the first love in this part of the world.”
He added, “Over the years, you have been a progressive country and your reward was obviously beating Trinidad and having a Trinidadian coach as well is great and I am sure that with the trophy being here in Guyana would encourage the young people to progress in the world of football, while bringing the people together.”
He reminded his audience which included Minister of Sport Dr Frank Anthony, Co-Managing Director of Banks DIH George McDonald, Sales and Marketing Executive of Banks DIH Carlton Joao and president of the Guyana Football Federation (GFF) Christopher Matthias, that football is a global sport and one that brings people together.
“I am very privileged and also humbled by the fact that I was given the opportunity to be Brand Ambassador, which enables me not only to represent Trinidad and Tobago alone but the people of the Caribbean as well and I am sure the people of Guyana would enjoy having the Trophy in the country,” said Yorke.
In his remarks, Matthias applauded Banks DIH through its Coca Cola brand of products, for bringing football’s ‘Holy Grail’ to the Land of Many Waters, saying it would touch the lives of Guyanese far and wide.
“On its own, the beautiful game of football achieves an objective, for those who participate on the field of play are the beneficiaries of life’s lessons, namely discipline, teamwork and learning to win as well as learning to lose.
“No one can deny the measure of emotions which the game itself evokes on those off the field of play, long after the 90 minutes would have ended, hence it is indeed fitting to commend Coca Cola, the corporate giant for this initiative of partnering with the world’s governing body of football FIFA and for bringing to 89 football-loving nations, the tangible part of football, the FIFA World Cup Trophy.”
He added, “Many who are unable to attend the actual FIFA World Cup, can still be made to feel a part and parcel of the institution of football. By this magnanimous gesture, two institutions FIFA and Coca Cola have achieved the commendable objectives of touching lives and the GFF wishes to extend heartfelt gratitude to FIFA, Coca Cola and to the family of Banks DIH for this initiative.”
McDonald, who later said he would be a part of the 2014 FIFA World Cup which will be hosted in neighbouring Brazil, echoed the sentiments of Yorke and Matthias by saying Guyanese are proud to have the FIFA World Cup Trophy in the country.
“Last month, the media highlighted the FIFA World Cup Trophy tour by Coca Cola as the largest and longest tour ever, since it will be visiting more countries during its nine-month journey around the globe, doing so in 89 countries, 39 of whom will organise events,” said McDonald.
On the list, Guyana, who is receiving the Trophy following its tour of Suriname, is country number 27 while being the penultimate stop for the Caribbean leg of the tour which commenced on September 12 2013 in Brazil and will conclude in April 2014, with T&T being the final stop.
“The Trophy will be visiting 50 countries that have never had the opportunity to hoist it before and this is an exciting and unforgettable buildup to the kickoff next year June in Brazil and having it in Guyana today is indeed a great moment for us.
“It offers us a once-in-a-lifetime view of the world’s most coveted symbol in football and it is indeed our pleasure to provide those interested persons with a first-hand view of the Trophy, thanks to the Coca Cola company who has had a long, outstanding relationship with FIFA, since 1974.”