Mon, Jul

Dwight Yorke has confirmed he is ready to return to the Trinidad and Tobago national football team after nearly four years of self-imposed exile since he quit the international scene on June 28, 2001.

Yorke, who plays for England Premier League team Birmingham City, told the Trinidad Express he is 99 per cent certain of joining national coach Bertille St Clair's outfit for their World Cup qualifier at home to the United States on February 9.

"It looks like it," said Yorke on Sunday afternoon at Chelsea's Stamford Bridge ground, London. "There are just a few details still to be sorted out, but I will say it is 99 per cent certain."

Yorke's decision to return to the international fold-a cameo against Northern Ireland last July at the Dwight Yorke Stadium, Bacolet notwithstanding-represents an about-turn from his position last November when he claimed to be happily retired and suggested that a rift between himself and Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (T&TFF) special advisor Jack Warner made a comeback virtually impossible.

Although Yorke insisted he had nothing personal against FIFA vice-president Warner, who once called him a "cancer to the game", he felt he was made a scapegoat by the T&TFF during the last World Cup qualifying series and hinted at a personality clash.

"I think maybe they saw me as a threat because I knew so much about what goes on inside the Trinidad and Tobago FA," said Yorke, in the Express Sports magazine published on December 2, 2004.

"I don't have a problem with him despite what he or others might think. I just do not need the T&TFF's money.

"It is as simple as that and not many other players coming from Trinidad can say that."

But Warner will have the final word on Yorke's return as the Caribbean's most famous player revealed that he was discussing his comeback with the veteran administrator.

"We have made great progress and everything is almost settled," said Yorke.

He explained that his looming return to Trinidad and Tobago colours, which was revealed last month by Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Chief Secretary Orville London, was prompted by his lingering ambitions of playing in the World Cup.

Yorke is afraid he might regret not making a final effort to take his country into the World Cup.

"I have achieved everything in the game bar one," he said. "Being 33, I might regret not coming back and helping because the World Cup only comes around every four years and the next time would be too late."

Yorke won the European Cup, two Premier League titles, one FA Cup and an Intercontinental Cup with Manchester United-where he cost a then club record £12.6 million-while he also lifted the League Cup with Aston Villa and Blackburn Rovers, which completed a clean sweep of every club trophy available in England.

He was the star player when the Trinidad and Tobago national under-20 team qualified for the 1991 FIFA World Youth Championship in Portugal. The 1991 national youth team, which was coached by his mentor, St Clair, and included current captain Angus Eve, goalkeeper Clayton Ince and striker Jerren Nixon, was the only T&T team to qualify for a FIFA tournament and the first English-speaking Caribbean outfit to do so.

Yorke also won MVP honours as a teenager when he steered his country to the inaugural Caribbean Cup title and represented Trinidad and Tobago in two CONCACAF Gold Cup tournaments.

At present, he is seventh in the all-time list of Premier League scorers with 122 goals and the most successful Caribbean footballer ever.

However, his remarkable achievements have been tainted by his lax attitude to discipline on international duty.

Yorke, along with former national star Russell Latapy were allowed separate accommodation and travel arrangements with the national team and were alleged to regularly flout curfews and even skip training sessions.

The matter came to a head when Brazilian coach Rene Simoes dropped both players before a crucial World Cup qualifier at home to Jamaica on June 31, 2001 for failing to attend a practice session.

Yorke and Latapy subsequently resigned to concentrate on their club careers.

Four years later, Yorke's Premier League career looks to be nearing an end as he has failed to establish himself at Birmingham, while his plea to be rescued by another top-flight club was ignored as the transfer window closed yesterday.

However, Yorke claimed that his club woes did not tempt him out of retirement.

"I think it makes it even harder (for me to return)," said Yorke. "If I was playing regularly, it would be easier to fit into high profile because I would already be match fit. But I am around long enough and training every day and in good nick, so I should be fine."

Yorke said he is willing to play in a midfield role if asked by St Clair, who has lamented a lack of quality in that area, although he has not discussed his future role in great detail.

He does not believe he has anything to prove, nor will he offer an apology for past problems.

"I do not think I have anything to apologise for," said Yorke, who promised to let his boots talk for him.It is up to Warner to agree.