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Tue, Dec

Typography

A review of Dwight Yorke’s autobiogaphy Born To Score

This autobiography presents a candid look into what undoubtedly is perhaps the most successful, if not the most talented footballer ever to rise out of our twin island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

As an autobiography of a young man, who at the time of publication is still just 38 years old, it treats with episodes that correspond to those that occupy the lives of the majority of youths of the world, sports (in this case football) interactions with the opposite sex and partying.

It is skewed more toward his life as a footballer, focusing a great deal on those factors that he considered pivotal in shaping his life as a successful English Premier League Footballer – family, relationships and career management.

Key events of his early childhood seem to indicate that he was destined for greatness, not the least of which was the miracle of July 28, 1974.

That fateful day when at 6.30 pm while walking to the shop with his brother Clint, he saw his much beloved sister Verlaine and wrenched his hand from his brother’s grip, ran across the road and was run over by a car.

Even more miraculously, was the angel, the mysterious “Chinaman” who happened on the scene and perhaps saved his life.

All this according to Dwight, being stuff of legend, and for us, an indication that his Creator had not begun to use him for the purpose for which he had been brought into the world.

It is obvious that his greatness was influenced most significantly by his Mother and older sister Verlaine. Although his father is represented as a domineering, abusive person and a womaniser, Dwight acknowledges that he did have a positive influence by cultivating strength and toughness in him which “would be of great use in the years ahead.

Ironically, while Dwight is determined never to mirror the abuse, he is equally determined to remain single and leave himself the leeway to pattern the stereo typical Caribbean male penchant for womanising.

It is also apparent that although he thought highly of his younger brother Brent, his relationship with him was not in any way critical to his development as a footballer or as a person.

Against a background of family life, we are then provided with specific details of the different phases of Dwight’s football career.

We are taken on a journey with the boy growing up in Canaan in Tobago, playing football on the beach with his friends; to his first exposure to organised coaching under Bertille St Clair; through success as a teenager with school and national age-group teams; through the experience of falling on the last hurdle with the National team in its 1989 campaign to go to the 1990 World Cup Final Tournament in Italy; through his introduction to the English Premier League with Aston Villa; through his ascent to the heights of Old Trafford with Manchester United, the predominant episode in the account; through the gradual descent first to Blackburn, then to Birmingham, then to Sydney and Finally to Sunderland — a descent which is punctuated by the ecstasy of captaining TT in a memorable World Cup in Germany 2006. For the reader, the journey was very real.

The view presented of the relationships of the young adult male in England is indeed a picturesque one.

The book is quite vocal in its accounts of Dwight’s life - both on and off the football field.

The reader is allowed to follow the course of intimate encounters and to witness a degree of self-admitted arrogance.

Indeed, the very human side of a star is revealed and the reader is left to weigh the pros and cons of stardom and to ponder on how greatness, wealth and popularity are to be best managed.

Throughout most of the book the reader is also afforded insights into other relationships with varying levels of intensity.

There is emphasis on respect for a former colleague or an individual that he has encountered in his life, as well as, evidence of some emotional detachment at times.

In stark contrast is the discussion of his relationship with his son Harvey and Katie Price and, the emotional turmoil caused by the loss of control that he feels in the situation.

The reader gets a sense of the same frustration which first manifests in the foreword of the book when while at the Funky Buddha, he is robbed and subsequently confronts his assailant and kicks and punches him.

Similarly, the reader shares in his frustration when reading of his relationship with Katie Price and his beloved son Harvey.

Despite the challenges occasioned by his life of stardom, the reader is left without any doubt that Dwight as Yorkie, is easy going, fun loving and bears no malice toward anyone. Dwight’s personality as Yorkie comes as well from his sense of drive.

The reader also has a sense that Yorkie is always in control.

Yorkie would later admit, in the latter part of the book, that his lifestyle probably affected his career in terms of the negative effect of popular perceptions of him on the clubs he played for and his relationship with their managers.

Yorkie’s maturity at the end of the book shines through when he tells of his relationship with Naomi and their son Orlando.

What we see is the nurturing Yorke. We see him as a fulfilled nurturing parent. We see Yorke the father, a man entering a new phase of maturity in his life.

Dwight goes one step further to demonstrate his modesty and maturity when he personally assesses Russell Latapy as a better footballer than himself and acknowledges readily that Brian Lara’s achievements as a cricketer far outweigh his own as a footballer.

Notwithstanding the personal and individual pathway of life of each individual, one cannot deny that arguably his story is surprisingly not very different from similar stories of other very famous celebrities.

In all cases, what makes such heroes even more heroic is that one is clearly able to see, that along with their great gifts, there are also personality traits that make them human.

Dwight Yorke’s autobiography presents a candid insight into the pitfalls and challenges of functioning at the highest level of one’s profession and is indicative of the determination and grit one must have to remain committed when functioning at that level.

It also clearly shows how important it is for any aspiring and talented athlete to be properly mentored, in order to navigate the professional and personal pitfalls that may arise for an athlete at the highest level.

It is a human story an indication that none of us is perfect; not even our heroes.

What makes them heroes is the fact that despite their character flaws and ours, they have risen beyond human and environmental limitations to the pinnacle of their chosen fields of endeavour.

The main importance of the book lies in what it reveals about the rigours of life and the commitment necessary to reach the top of international football. It is important that throughout the book, Yorke is an example of the work ethic and positive approach and commitment required to be successful in the sport of football.

He is able to do so despite the distractions and the detractors.

The unapologetic way Dwight Yorke has lived his life is in itself a trait of greats such as himself.

The mistakes some might say that he made only to serve to make him more human and more heroic.

Dwight’s autobiography also offers much insight into the shortcomings of the local football fraternity — insights that can prove invaluable to the development of local football.

Most notably are his observations of the level of commitment of local footballers and of the need for them to be nurtured and developed by someone with that understanding of what is required of a player at the highest level.

This account of Dwight’s life is at its heart a motivational story, not of a perfect man but of a man constantly striving for professional perfection.

Dwight Yorke is as seen in this autobiography a flamboyant, talented, controversial and most of all an elite athlete by any standard in any sport.

As a product of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago he has made his country proud and I trust will continue to do so as our Sporting Ambassador.