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Friday, May 21, 1999 Published at 09:40 GMT 10:40 UK


Dwight Yorke: "My World Cup final"

Dwight Yorke: "This is my World Cup final and I want to win it!"

As Manchester United pave the way for a historic treble, Dwight Yorke is composing himself for a match which he describes as his own personal 'World Cup final'.

United's Euro Showdown
The United striker has allowed Old Trafford to move on after the abdication of King Eric, and as Alex Ferguson's side prepare to face Bayern Munich in their crucial European Cup final clash, it gives Yorke the perfect chance to show the world he is the jewel in United's crown.

But putting collars and goals aside, Yorke does not encourage people likening him to the flambouyant Frenchman. Perhaps the most frustrating comparison which can be drawn is both players failure to appear in the World Cup finals.

And it is unlikely the Trinidad and Tobago striker will ever get the opportunity to unleash his footballing powers on the World's most prestigious stage.


[ image: Dwight Yorke wears his usual grin after signing for Manchester United]
Dwight Yorke wears his usual grin after signing for Manchester United
He said: "I grieve when I see my team-mates in the World Cup because these are the people I'm playing with week in week out, and they can play on the biggest stage in the world and I can't.''

Opportunity to shine

With the entire football world feasting their eyes on a packed Nou Camp for United's most titanic clash for 31 years, the occasion represents Yorke's greatest opportunity to show the world why United forked out £12.6m to prise him away from Aston Villa.

There was even speculation that Yorke, who recently acquired a British passport, would pull on an England shirt in the next World Cup but the 28-year-old reaffirmed his commitment to his country.

"I can`t help where I come from," he said. "I will always be loyal to Trinidad and Tobago despite people linking me with playing for England.

"I could never do that - and anyway, it is impossible for me to do so.''

"However it will take a little time before Trinidad and Tobago get up there with the big boys. I think it will happen some day - whether it will happen while I'm still in football is another question.

Instant hit

Yorke is one of the few strikers who instantly announced himself at Manchester United, scoring a glut of goals and slotting effortlessly into the United forward line as if he'd known Beckham's sweeping right peg all his life.

The only blip in an otherwise faultless season arrived when he suffered a frustrating goal drought in March and was substituted by United boss Alex Ferguson, casting doubts over his future at Old Trafford.


[ image: Dwight Yorke celebrates scoring another goal with strike partner Andy Cole]
Dwight Yorke celebrates scoring another goal with strike partner Andy Cole
Yorke, who retained his eternal smile throughout his lean period in front of goal, readily admits that being substituted by Ferguson was the only low point in an otherwise brilliant season.

"No player likes being substituted," conceded Yorke.

"But I was playing poorly and the manager saw that and he did what he had to do.

" I hope it is the first and last time but it made me sit up and realise how badly I was playing.

"A lot of things were going on at the time and I got a bit distracted. I had a lot on mind and it diverted my concentration.

Priceless

But Yorke's priceless goal in the European Cup semi-final which prompted a red mist to descend on Turin restored his debilitated confidence and reminded the United fans that deadly Dwight was back in business.

His league form returned and he finished off the Premiership campaign as equal top scorer- sharing the crown with Michael Owen and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink with 18 goals.


[ image: The Trinidad and Tobago forward was second in the votes for Footballer of the Year]
The Trinidad and Tobago forward was second in the votes for Footballer of the Year
Amazingly, only nine months have passed since Yorke left Villa Park to join the world's richest football club for a hefty £12.6 million, in one of the most expensive transfers in football history.

Indeed, the novelty of the dream come true has not worn off as yet.

Yorke admitted while he always wanted to play professional football but in his time at Villa he never dreamt he would be touted as Man United's next Eric Cantona.

"I'm flattered that people have said I am in the same league as Cantona because Cantona is a legend.''

Yorke is a national hero in his homeland and flits back and forth between Trinidad and Tobago and Britain for international matches and to collect the latest honour which he has been dealt.

On his last visit he was given the keys to the Port of Spain, the capital city of the twin island republic.

Adventure

He said: "My last visit to Trinidad and Tobago was crazy and the award is the country's way of recognising my achievement.''

Back at the insalubrious surroundings of The Cliff, the hard working forward is one of a number of stars clamouring for extra training, eager to hone his cup lifting skills before the final chapter of United's European Cup adventure.

He remains confident that the European Cup is well within United's grasp and said: "We're just going to try to enjoy winning the league for now but the confidence is certainly high and we think can go on and win that one {the European Cup} as well."

And despite the fact that by Wednesday night there could be three brand new pieces of silverware shimmering in the light of the Old Trafford trophy cabinet, his message to the fans is quite simply: "The best is yet to come".



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