Legend lands lucrative two-year contract with Sky Sports TV.
Trinidad and Tobago’s most celebrated ex-football star, Dwight Yorke, will return to the English Premier League this season as a full-fledged member of the Sky Sports TV commentary team.
The former striker signed a two-year deal with Sky Sports last month for an undisclosed sum.
Yorke, 39, was just 18 years old when he joined English top-flight club Aston Villa and the one-time Manchester United record signing has won every prize available in a glittering career.
Yorke was part of the winning team in the European Champions League in 1999 as well as the English Premier League (twice), the League Cup (twice), the FA Cup, the Intercontinental Cup and the Championship Division.
He also snagged the A’ League crowd in a successful one-year stint with Australian club Sydney FC, before finally retiring while at Premiership team Sunderland in 2009.
His experience and opinion on the game will now benefit television viewers worldwide on a Sky panel that includes his former United teammate Gary Neville, ex-England internationals Jamie Redknapp and Ray Wilkins, and ex-Scotland star and Yorke’s former Blackburn Rovers boss and nemesis, Graeme Souness. “We are professionals … I don’t hold grudges.
“After you’ve finished playing football, if you don’t get into management,” said Yorke, “the next best thing is to become a football pundit. I’m thrilled that Sky wants me on board and, not only that, it keeps me in the public eye and on top of everything that is taking place in the modern game.”
Yorke, a former national captain, is the second Soca Warrior to land a high-profile television gig after his 2006 World Cup teammate Shaka Hislop who joined ESPN three years ago.
The Tobago-born attacker, once Europe’s most prolific striker, made several guest appearances on Sky last season and admitted that he is still adapting to the new position.
Once a regular target for British tabloid newspapers, Yorke believes the media hype is even more intense now, while the rigours of the game means players must pay closer attention to their physical conditioning.
“The concept of the game has not changed,” said Yorke, “but there is more money and media hype now. The game is faster too and players have to look after themselves to stay fitter and stronger. I think players are faster today, although not necessarily better.”
Yorke has not given up on his dream to become TnT’s first topflight head coach.
He had a stint as player/coach under former Sunderland manager Ricky Sbragia while he earned plaudits from players as Russell Latapy’s assistant coach during the 2010 World Cup qualifying campaign. (Compatriot Dennis Lawrence is an assistant coach at Wigan).
At present, Yorke has his international B’ licence and hopes to become the first local coach to complete his A’ licence within the next two years. Sir Alex Ferguson, Manchester United’s boss, has granted Yorke access to the club’s facilities for his training course.
“To be a manager anywhere in the world would be great,” said Yorke.
He is not angling for the country’s top coaching job just yet, although he hinted that he would consider it in the future — if the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) shapes up.
“I really haven’t thought about it,” he said. “But maybe down the road when they get their house in order
… I really know very little in terms of what is going on in Trinidad and Tobago’s football but I know that, in the absence of Jack Warner, TnT and the Caribbean will suffer for some years to come.”
Yorke will continue to cast an eye over TnT’s last remaining Premiership player, Stoke City striker Kenwyne Jones, and hopes the giant attacker does his nation proud this season.
Yorke was a Sunderland player when then manager Roy Keane signed Jones from Southampton. However, he believes that the 26year-old striker, who was once targeted by Liverpool and Tottenham, is playing below his potential.
“I remember when Roy Keane set Kenwyne’s value at £40 million,” said Yorke.
“I don’t think he has gone on from there and achieved what we expected of him. He is still scoring and playing on a regular basis, but I feel he can do more to improve his game and become a complete player.
“Kenwyne is one of the best headers in the Premier League but you must be a complete player and have a good all-round game to play for the big boys. If you want to achieve more, you have to work more. But Kenwyne has been around long enough to know that.”