DURING THE course of his stellar career, Dwight Yorke has had much to shout about. Born in Canaan, Tobago, during his pomp with Aston Villa and Manchester United the forward won the English Premier League title three times, the Champions League once and also has one FA Cup and two League Cups to his name.
Add over 70 caps for Trinidad & Tobago - that takes in a World Cup finals appearance - and the affable Yorke has literally seen and done it all.
However, past glories go on hold when in his new role of Tobago Global Brand Ambassador, Yorke heads a posse of Premier League stars who will participate in the British Airways Tobago Football Legends tournament to be hosted in the beautiful Caribbean island from June 15-22.
Yorke, who made his name during a nine-year spell with Aston Villa, told the Voice of Sport: “It’s the ultimate for my country. This sort of thing does not happen very often, so to have a bunch of Premier League players descend on the island is great.
“The people in Tobago have been working hard over the years to make this happen. I know how passionate the people in Tobago are about their football. It’s a big scalp for us and I’m sure that all the legends will enjoy being on the island.”
A precocious Yorke was discovered by Villa while the Midlands club were on a tour of the Caribbean and the rest is well-chronicled history.
Yorke, now working in the media, is the biggest soccer success story to come out of the Caribbean and he firmly believes that the upcoming Legends showcase can encourage and develop young stars that can emulate his accomplishments
“It [the tournament] can raise the profile of Tobago. It can also enhance our global status as a country that people can come and visit. The country has various things to offer.”
“The footballers who come over next month will be working with the young people on the island and will be encouraging them to follow their dreams
“I am hopeful that someone, somewhere will come out of the pack and emerge as a rising star, whether it be in football or track and field. Having the legends come to the island can only be a form of encouragement.”
Yorke, who also played for Blackburn, Birmingham and Sunderland, admits that football has been pivotal to his own life.
The 43-year-old said: “Football has been life-changing for me. It gave me life skills too. Discipline, commitment and focus, football has put me in the right direction.”
Talking to the former Old Trafford favourite, you get the sense that he is immensely proud that the British Airways event has landed on his home island. “I’ve called in a few favours in terms of the players. I just want it to be a great tournament.
“There will some players that some of the fans will be in awe of. Football has become such a global sport and the Caribbean continues to improve in terms of facilities and it won’t be long before you see Premier League teams heading out to the region, not just to play games but for the good climate and cuisine.”