Tue, Jul

When I read that Dwight Yorke might be returning to the Trinidad and Tobago national football team, I groaned.

I have tired of asking Yorke about his international aspirations and thought it was put to rest for good, last November, when he said he had not forgiven the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (T&TFF) for their transgressions against him.

Yorke said then that he was 99 per cent certain he will never wear national colours again.

He changed his tune in a chat with old friend and Tobago House of Assembly (THA) chairman Orville London and confirmed as much to me on Sunday.

Yorke is now "99 per cent certain" that he will play on February 9 in Trinidad and Tobago's World Cup qualifier against the United States.

I was not put off by the task of tracking down the striker so much as I was by the ramifications of his decision.

It is one I fear can backfire.

Former prime minister Basdeo Panday often cooed about the wisdom of stroking the lion's head while easing your hand out of his mouth.

Yorke yanked his services away on June 28, 2001 when he quit the national team in a huff after being sacked by then national coach Brazilian Rene Simoes for indiscipline.

Now, he is attempting to put his hand back into the same lion's jaws.

Alarm bells were screaming in my head.

Yorke is a brave man.

Seven years ago, as Manchester United balked at Aston Villa's asking price, Yorke drove to Villa chairman Doug Ellis' home and begged him to sell.

It was a risky gamble. Yorke could have alienated his employers while still being denied a chance to move to United.

Even if Yorke was sold to the "Red Devils", there was no certainty he could flourish in a dressing room that already included English internationals Andy Cole and Teddy Sheringham as well as fan favourite Ole Gunnan Solskjaer.

West Indies cricket captain and close friend, Brian Lara, advised him to stay put while English sport writers and managers lined up to ridicule the then club record £12.6 million signing.

Yorke proved everyone wrong within months, as he was United's most valuable player and leading scorer in the most successful season in the history of the powerful club.

Last August, he defied conventional wisdom again and spurned the chance of a lucrative move to Scotland Premier League outfit Celtic to remain in the Premiership with Midlands team, Birmingham.

This time, he was forced to admit defeat as he failed to cement a place in the starting line-up.

Yorke likes to let his boots do his talking but, at 33, his aging legs are not quite as fluent as they used to be while his playboy image has not helped.

His skills failed to make him untouchable at Blackburn Rovers and Birmingham and it might not be enough for Trinidad and Tobago either-albeit for different reasons.

Yorke insists that he has nothing to prove and he will get no argument there.

A European Cup, FA Cup, League Cup and Premiership winner with three different clubs, Yorke is the Caribbean's most successful and celebrated player of all-time and rumours of his demise are greatly exaggerated.

His technique and understanding of the game will be unmatched within the national dressing room while there have never been complaints regarding his fitness level.

Trinidad and Tobago fans are extremely docile, in comparison to their British counterparts, and would be singing his praises after a few good performances. Their laissez-faire attitude to perceived misdemeanours will negate the dissenting voices of some sections of the media.

Lest we forget, Lara remains a hero of the masses despite walking out on the West Indies more than once and having a lukewarm disposition towards training sessions and curfews.

An effective technical staff should also allow Yorke to do his job without interference from the local administration although they are unlikely to sabotage their own team's chances to satisfy any real or imagined personal vendetta.

But Yorke does owe one party an explanation.

He must make things right with his international teammates.

Many of the players involved in the last World Cup qualifying campaign are still there.

Even if they understand his problems with the T&TFF, his sudden resignation, four years ago, was not fair to them.

They were left in the lurch for a crucial World Cup qualifier against Jamaica, which T&T lost 2-1.

T&TFF adviser and FIFA vice-president Jack Warner might have given Yorke, and Latapy, freedom to ride roughshod over team rules but that did not make it right for them to do so.

And, despite the best intentions of current coach Bertille St Clair or anyone else, Yorke's return will fail unless he satisfies the national dressing room regarding the sincerity of his commitment.

When I met up with Yorke at Chelsea, I asked why he decided to come out of retirement.

He replied that playing in a World Cup tournament is the only honour he had not achieved in the game and wanted to give it a final shot.

They were honest words. But they might not satisfy his international teammates.

No one will line up on Ash Wednesday hoping to give Yorke a heroic send off.

It must be all about the team from here on.

Yorke revealed that he would play in the midfield if required and it is an encouraging sign.

Hopefully, if he does reach an agreement with Warner, there will be more indications of his desire to sacrifice self for team.

Forget the fans, media, St Clair and even Warner, it's his relationship with his teammates that will be decisive as far as I am concerned.

It is they who will ultimately decide whether they choose to make Yorke's decision a right or wrong one.