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Dwight Yorke in KenyaManchester United legend, Dwight Yorke, is in the country for a three-day promotional tour of the Airtel Rising Stars football programme.

Yorke played for United between 1998 and 2002, and variously for Sunderland, Blackburn Rovers, Aston Villa, Birmingham City, Sydney and Tobago United.

He was talismanic on the field, altogether scoring 48 goals for Manchester United in 188 appearances, and he has diversely called stint there ‘a happy place in my career’.

In his first season at United, Yorke was key in guiding his club to a unique treble of the Premiership title, FA Cup and UEFA Champions League, and forming a potent partnership with Andy Cole.

He 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. A regular member of United’s 1999–2000 title-winning team, he contributed 22 goals in all competitions during that period.

MEMORABLE MOMENT

“My most memorable moment was representing my country in the 2006 Germany World Cup,” said Yorke in response to a question during an interview with pokernews.com.

“Of course, I won a treble with United, which was obviously the most outstanding year in terms of achievement but playing for my country at that particular time and being the captain, that was a really special moment.”

His demeanour - Yorke was always smiling on the pitch - and sheer precision with the ball earned him a nickname: the scoring assasin. He was as merciless as he was exciting and when he scored, he wa always smiling. And his opponents loathed him for that.

Yorke might have played in six clubs but his relationship with Manchester is extra-special. And after more than a decade after he quit playing at Old Trafford, the players has fond memories of his time with Sir Alex Ferguson.

“Manchester was a very happy place for me. I was very fortunate that when I came here, I had the opportunity to play at the club. I played with a bunch of wonderful players. It was a great time in my career.”

Currently, the former player is a sports analyst with Britain’s Sky Network, a job he landed in August 2011, where he commentates on contemporary football matters. “I have been in the game for over 22 years as a professional, and my experience in the game means I have an opinion.

“It is not really a road I thought I would go down, but it fell right into my lap, so to speak, so I have just been going with it and so far it has been a great learning curve,” says Yorke, who also dreams of coaching some day in future. “It is something I will definitely do. It is just a matter of when. I have a lot of things on at the moment but I do want to manage a team.”

JACK OF ALL TRADES

Yorke has completed his Level B coaching badge, and in 2010 was quoted as being interested in pursuing a career in coaching, ideally with Aston Villa. On April 17, 2011, he completed the London Marathon in a time of 3 hours and 32 minutes.

Back home in Trinidad and Tobago, Yorke has got a stadium named after him, a fact he says, in measured modesty, makes him feel honoured.

“I have been very humbled by the whole thing. We are a very small country with only a population of 1.5 million, so it is something very awesome and such an honour. It’s crazy.”

Along with Russell Latapy and Pat Jennings, Yorke holds the record number of participations in different World Cup competitions, including qualifying stages – six in total (1990, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006 and 2010).

His passion to develop football is unstrained, and didn’t need asking twice to okay his trip to Nairobi for the Airtel Rising Stars clinic. He has tipped Kenyan football for greatness but warned that the country must invest in youth structures to tap onto the raw talent.

NO JUMPING THE QUEUE

“There is no short cut to success, and both the country and aspiring footballers must work their socks off if they are to realize success in the lucrative world of football.” He was speaking at the Boma Hotel.

“As a young boy, I wanted to be a footballer and I can easily relate with the Kenyan situation because I come from a third-world country just like the rest of Africa; I had to work extra hard. to make it.

“Kenya has made a huge step by having Victor Wanyama in the EPL. The young, aspiring players now have somebody closer home they easily relate with and draw inspiration from. I was pretty much brought up through the streets. I was very, very fortunate, and I hope my visit to Kenya, my story, will encourage the many young stars to rise up and meet their destiny.”

“The Airtel Rising Star is an opportunity I never had as a child but its good because it’s giving gifted kids a chance to jumpstart their careers.”