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He's having a ball, and he hasn't even kicked off yet
« on: July 02, 2005, 02:50:35 PM »
He's having a ball, and he hasn't even kicked off yet
By John Huxley

   
"It's a big responsibility" ... the former English Premier League player Dwight Yorke will be the man fans watch. For opponents of Sydney FC he will be the man to stop.

On and off the football field, Dwight Yorke has pretty much done it all.

He has played alongside David Beckham, been deified by his countrymen on the Caribbean island of Tobago, and been trashed by the English tabloids for his partying, his on-off relationship with the topless model Jordan and his on-film sex romps with four women and his Australian mate Mark Bosnich.

So why, at the age of only 33, would he want to come to play football in Australia which - to adapt the famous remark of a former Socceroo - is rather like going to England to surf?

"Not the money. I could have got much more in the Far East," Yorke said yesterday after signing a two-year contract to play with new A-league team Sydney FC.

"Not the weather, and other stuff like that," he added, glancing outside at rain more typical of Manchester and Birmingham.

No, Yorke just wanted to play for an exciting, new club, in an exciting, new competition.

"It was a great opportunity I couldn't resist. And, well, there's no secret Sydney is a place I love."

Sydney FC, dubbed Hollywood FC and Bling FC by rival fans, already has a billionaire backer, Frank Lowy; a celebrity supporter, Anthony LaPaglia, and a World Cup-winning coach, the German Pierre Littbarski. Now it has its big-name player.

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AdvertisementNot surprisingly, Yorke declined to disclose the terms of his contract, reportedly worth about $1 million a year, plus Porsche (although he disappeared in one of the four-wheel-drives of the sponsor, Hyundai), plus an apartment in Elizabeth Bay, plus plus.

Sadly for a code that needs publicity good or bad to succeed in footy-mad Sydney, he did not wish to discuss his private life either. "Football is what I'm here for." Asked if he expected better treatment from local media, he rattled his silver bracelets, tugged his silver earrings and smiled.

"If I'm totally honest, I don't expect much different. You know when you become a name in the game the media wants to know about your private life." So will he be on special behaviour? "Oh, this is my personality. Everyone knows what I'm like. If I'm doing the business on the football pitch and the manager is happy, that what's important."

Yorke knows that as the club's top player he will be tagged by fans as the man to watch and targeted by opponents as the man to stop. "It's a responsibility. But I don't want to be too big-headed. This is not just about Dwight Yorke."

Maybe not, but he has most to prove. His previous manager described him unflatteringly as a $50,000-a-week "straggler". His new chairman, Walter Bugno, was quoted as saying that bringing him to Sydney was like winning the Olympics.

Yorke starts training on Monday, and the club kicks off its first A-league game on August 28. It will be hoping that all's Dwight on the night.

Meanwhile, he is getting used to being a player in Australia. Apologising for arriving one day late, he explained he had missed the plane. If he had still been an English Premier League player they would have held it for him.

sydney morning herald

 

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