DEFENDERS and blonde bombshells, take note: "All Night" Dwight Yorke has declared his intention to relaunch himself on Australia — with the Central Coast Mariners.
The smiling face of the inaugural A-League season will meet Mariners chairman Lyall Gorman in London this week to discuss a return. Yorke, 36, has promised the club's leading shareholder, Peter Turnbull, that the Mariners will have first option if, as anticipated, he severs ties with Sunderland in June.
Former Sydney FC powerbroker Turnbull helped tempt the playmaker to the Sydney Football Stadium back in 2005, with skipper Yorke leading the club to the competition's inaugural crown with a grand final win against the Mariners.
Yorke would command less than half the $1 million he earned before reluctantly leaving Sydney to reunite with former Manchester United teammate Roy Keane at the Stadium of Light after only one season.
But money is not believed to be the driving force for multimillionaire Yorke, with his English agent Simon Bayliff declaring: "Dwight has a very good relationship with Peter Turnbull; they have kept in touch ever since he left the club and the Mariners will have first option if he leaves Sunderland."
Property developer Turnbull believes the A-League leader would provide the perfect habitat for Yorke, who has been earmarked as a player and coaching mentor to the club's junior players.
"Dwight has his UEFA coaching badge … we have 100,000 kids now linked up with the club through our ties with the Granville, Canberra, Hornsby, Woy Woy and the Ku-ring-gai associations," Turnbull said.
"It shows the quality of the man, that despite being in his 30s, he's gone back to the Premier League and taken it in his stride. But I know he'd like to come back because he loves Australia and our lifestyle."
Like Turnbull, who was hounded out of Sydney by the all-powerful Frank Lowy faction, Yorke left with few warm feelings and has ruled out a return there. A $200,000 agency fee finally was paid to his English representatives after a threat of court action.
The club demanded and received a $500,000 transfer fee before off-loading Yorke to Sunderland rather than stump up another $1 million for year two of his contract.
Despite his reputation as a party prince, Yorke astounded Sunderland's coaching staff two weeks ago by leading the mid-season fitness league table in press-ups, squat thrusts and power-lifting.
Yorke, who scored eight goals in 22 appearances for Sydney, plans to base himself on his former Sin City party patch, which means the Mariners would have to bend club rules precluding players from living outside the area.