An email conversation with Dwight Yorke: 'I saw we were playing England and was dancing round the room'

How Trinidad & Tobago won World Cup play-off; Caribbean islands will be going crazy during finals; No problem extending career in midfield; Love Australia - laid-back and relaxed like me
Click to follow
The Independent Football

What was your reaction to the World Cup draw - and getting England in particular? I'm absolutely ecstatic to be playing England. Playing in the World Cup was always going to be great, but to be playing against England, where I played so much football and have a lot of friends, will make it even better. I said all along that playing England at the World Cup would be the ultimate and for it to come true is like a dream. I woke up and switched on the television to CNN and when I saw that we were playing England I was dancing around the room.

How do you think you will fare? I know we're talking about the minnow against the might of world football, but it's still 11 versus 11 and anything could happen on such a big occasion. Nothing is a foregone conclusion any more, the days of 10-0, 12-0, have gone.

Bruce Arena, the coach of the United States, rates Trinidad & Tobago and Australia as the tournament's whipping boys. What do you think? The manager of the American team is entitled to his opinion. Hopefully when he comes up against one of us we can shove the words right back in his face. America was in our [qualifying] group. They know they were very fortunate to beat us. They are not a brilliant team like they are making out to be. We've been playing them for years - they are not that special.

It's now a few weeks since Trinidad & Tobago qualified for the World Cup finals. Have you come down to earth and how do you feel about the achievement now? To be honest, I'm not sure it's really sunk in properly yet. I chose not to go back to T & T to celebrate as I had Sydney FC duties to think about so I haven't really had the chance to get too excited. And when I came back all the Aussies were celebrating as well.

It was a dramatic World Cup play-off second leg in Bahrain. What are you memories? I remember speaking to a lot of my friends and family before the game, the noise of the ground and how we controlled most of the game. There were a couple of incidents that will stick in my mind - like taking the corner for the goal and the feeling of seeing the ball go in.

How were the celebrations and what did you end up doing? We didn't really celebrate that crazy. Yes we had a couple of drinks in the hotel we were staying in but it wasn't like we were at home. The boys were all heading back to T & T first thing in the morning. I ended up by the swimming pool the following lunchtime on my own waiting for my flight!

Have the players been given any special reward or recognition? Not just yet. I think the Prime Minister is planning something, though. It would be nice to be recognised for getting there for the first time in our country's history.

Trinidad & Tobago will be the smallest nation at the World Cup. What does it mean to the islands and how will it be followed back in Port of Spain? You'll see what it means to us in the Caribbean! The islands will be going crazy during the tournament. It would be a great place to be if I wasn't actually playing!

Did you ever think it would happen? When I looked at the group I thought "we can do this". We were going to have to battle and more than likely go through the elimination round but all of our beliefs grew with every game.

You are captain - and the most celebrated player. Why did you come out of international retirement and what does the responsibility of wearing that captain's armband mean to you? It means absolutely everything to me. It is definitely one of the highest moments of my career. I will remember captaining my country to the finals. I came back because I thought I didn't want to end my international career thinking I could have been better or done more as an international footballer.

How do you think the "Soca Warriors" will fare in Germany? We'll have to wait and see. It's going to be tough for us but I don't think any nations will fancy us in their group as a bit of a wild card.

How does it rate in your own personal career achievements? It is right up there with the best things I've been able to achieve in football. I have been fortunate enough to win some amazing things, especially during my time at Manchester United, but making the World Cup is just as important for me. I think I've had a good life and a good career. To still be sixth- or seventh-highest-ever goalscorer in the Premiership still means I must have done something right along the way. I've been blessed to win Premier League, FA Cup, Coca-Cola Cup and Champions' League winners medals. So I'm a happy man.

And what will happen after the tournament? Do you think you will retire or will you carry on? I have another year of my contract with Sydney FC to run so I will see in February 2007. I've always been very fit so continuing to play in midfield won't hold too many problems.

How did your move to Sydney FC happen and how does it compare to your career in England? It came out of the blue really. My agent at SFX, Simon Bayliff, spoke with Sydney at length. There were several other opportunities from going to the Middle East, to playing in the SPL to playing in the Championship. But Simon and I discussed it long and hard and felt that to be part of the start-up of this new league, in a great team and city like Sydney was what eventually made the decision.

Do you think football will ever catch on in Australia? It's already caught on. Believe it or not there are half a million kids playing football in Sydney but the FFA [Football Federation Australia] just need to learn how to tap into all that talent.

What's the reception been like for you in Australia? Unbelievable really. To be fair, all the Aussies have been top class with me. They've made me feel very special because of my achievements in England. I love the way they live - pretty laid-back and relaxed like myself.

Is it easier for you now? What's the standard like? The standard is decent. I would say it's comparable to Championship football at the moment. But it's improving as more and more quality players come into the league. The Aussies qualifying for the World Cup finals will really help.

Attachment: The Dwight Yorke lowdown

* 1971 Born 3 Nov 1971 in Canaan, Tobago.

* 1989 Discovered by Graham Taylor on club's tour of West Indies and signed for around £120,000.

* 1990 League debut against Manchester United in December. A right winger until the 1995-96 season, then switched to centre-forward and quickly established himself as one of the Premiership's finest. Apps: 287. Goals: 97.

* 1998 Bought by Alex Ferguson for £12.6m in August. Formed devastating partnership with Andy Cole as United won three successive League titles, including 1999 treble of the Premiership, FA Cup and Champions' League when Premiership's joint top scorer.

* 2001-02 Lost place after arrival of Ruud van Nistelrooy. Rumoured that he fell out with Ferguson for his relationship with glamour model Jordan (with whom he has a child, Harvey). Sold in July 2002 to Blackburn Rovers for £2m. Apps: 151. Goals: 64.

* 2002-2004 Bought for £2m, Yorke spent two less than illustrious years at Ewood Park and fell out with manager Graeme Souness. Apps: 74. Goals: 19.

* 2004-05 Free transfer to Birmngham. Saw little action and eventually released.

* 2005-06 Signed for Sydney FC, April 17. Apps: 16. Goals: 2.