Mon, Jun

National Senior Football Team Captain Dwight Yorke has been adjudged the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation’s  Male “Footballer of the Year” for 2005 and as a result will go up as the nominee for the First Citizens’ Bank Sportsman of the Year Award at the ceremony next March.

The TTFF made the disclosure on Friday as the days numbered down to the end of a year which saw Yorke lead the National Team to a historic World Cup qualification for the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

Yorke, 34, arrived back in Australia on Thursday and was in good spirits following the Christmas break given to him and other members of the Sydney FC club following their appearance at the FIFA World Club Championship in Japan.

The former Manchester United Star (in photo) celebrated his biggest achievement on November 16 when this country defeated Bahrain 1-0 to secure its berth in next year’s World Cup. Following his return to the National team after an absence dating back to June 2001, in February this year in a final round qualifier against the United States at the Queen’s Park Oval, Yorke went on to play every minute of the following eleven World Cup qualifying matches for the “Soca Warriors” and capped his phenomenal comeback with the left sided corner which resulted in Dennis Lawrence’s winning strike to secure T&T’s win over Bahrain. He has also performed with credit for Australian club Sydney FC so far this season, finishing the year with a  penalty strike in Sydney’s 2-2 draw with New Zealand Knights on Friday.

Yorke wept openly when the final whistle blew as he described the achievement as his lifelong dream come true.

“It definitely has to be the biggest achievement for me on my return to the National team,” Yorke told TTFF Media. “To finish it off this way by qualifying for the World Cup which aside from all my other success, has been my dream as a young kid, is fantastic and it is dedicated to the team and the rest of the country. I couldn’t have asked for a better year of football for all of us.”

TTFF President Oliver Camps, manager of the 1989 squad of which Yorke was a member, added: “Dwight truly deserved everything given to him this year and all that he has achieved and we felt it was fitting to name him the best player for 2005. There were several others who performed creditably like Stern John and others and if it were up to me I would name the entire National Team as players and sportsmen of the year for 2005.”

Like Camps, TTFF Special Advisor Jack Warner couldn’t hold back his words of admiration for the Tobago-born Yorke.

“He was a wonderful leader and player for us this year and this is a man who a lot of people wrote off and to see how he was transformed into the kind of individual as he remains today is a brilliant example for all of us to follow. He left us in 2001 and many of us felt it was unfitting and unfair but he came back and he did it in style and with honour and that alone is admirable and fitting of this honour,” Warner told TTFF Media as he engaged in a end of year gathering with CONCACAF and TTFF staff at his offices on Friday.

Young Chris Birchall, a member of the National Team, said he was delighted for Yorke.

“I’m not surprised he's been named the player of the year because he deserves all he that he gets now. He's been a massive influence on me and  made me feel  welcome when I came  and  spoke to me personally  before all the games. He gave me the confidence  to go out and play and was always talking and  helping me on the pitch. I think myself  and Aurtis (Whitley have learnt a lot off Dwight  and that has done us all well in the middle of midfield, I’m happy we got to Germany  especially for Dwight because now he can say he has achieved all his ambitions as a player,” Birchall said. The TTFF’s Female “Player of the Year” will be announced shortly.