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THERE have been hefty claims this season about the biggest name to grace the A-League.

I have been fortunate to play with some highly regarded players, but there has been none bigger, in my opinion, than Dwight Yorke, my Sydney FC teammate in the opening season of the league.

He epitomises the marquee player. He was equally at home in the social pages as the sports pages. The crowds flocked to watch him play and the paparazzi hounded him in his private life.

Away from football, he enjoyed the lifestyle of a rock star - or a hip-hop star to be more precise.

Sydney FC received its Bling FC tag off the back of his blinding chains and flash watches.

But I assure you it was purely a media tagline. Underneath it, Pierre Littbarski, our German coach, put us through the most gruelling pre-season I've ever been a part of.

Yorkie was a footballer first, never putting himself above the rest of the team. He did most of the hard work on the training paddock with no more complaints than the rest of us.

He also produced come game time and was a big reason why we won the inaugural A-League championship.

Yorkie worked hard and he played just as hard. A night out on the town meant private booths at some of Sydney's elite nightspots with every whim catered for. Even in this setting he was a team player. The rest of the team were always welcome and, thankfully, he always picked up the bill.

There are many good memories of Yorkie's time here, but two instantly come to mind.

The first was when he was shown around Sydney Football Stadium, but then told the team was training at Park Lea in the north-western suburbs. His response was: "I ain't going to no Park Lane!"

The second was his first team recovery session at Bondi beach.

We completed a jog along the sand and then it was time to hit the water. I don't know if it was the water temperature, fear of sharks or the thought of having to remove his cap, but he wasn't getting in.

Instead he chatted to the locals and ended up collecting a few phone numbers.

Honourable mentions in the biggest A-League player debate must go to some of my other Sydney teammates.

Juninho, a World Cup winner with Brazil, needs little introduction; Japanese striker Kazuyoshi Miura (King Kazu) is arguably the biggest player to come out of Asia; and Italian striker Benito Carbone had a 20-year plus career, mainly in Italy and England.

All were great players and down-to-earth guys.