Any doubts as to who will have star billing when Wales and Trinidad & Tobago contest a friendly here tonight are dispelled by the advertising hoardings around this elegant Austrian city. "Die Welt-Meister Sensation Live in Graz!'' screams the slogan. The would-be world master pictured is Dwight Yorke.
The description may be a trifle over-the-top, but the finest footballer the Caribbean has produced is not going to Germany next month to make up the numbers. Now 34 and playing in Australia, Yorke trained with his old club, Manchester United, towards the end of the English season - and Trinidad's meeting with England in Nuremberg on 15 June was a constant source of stick.
"I had it every day,'' grinned Yorke, who captains his country. "Gary Neville marked me in practice and it was all 'This is what I'm going to do to you' from us both. Rio [Ferdinand] and [Wayne] Rooney, too. We'll probably be texting and phoning each other during the tournament.
"The one thing I don't want is to be coming off humiliated by 6-0 or 7-0. I want us to compete, and if we do that, who knows what may happen?'' Yorke was a teenager newly-signed to Aston Villa when Trinidad blew their opportunity to qualify for Italia 90 by losing at home to the United States. When he retired from international football - before being enticed back after Leo Beenhakker became manager of the Soca Warriors - it seemed his chance had gone.
"I was only a kid 17 years ago, and missing out was very hard to accept. It was difficult whenever the World Cup came around. Even when you love your country, you think: 'Why wasn't I born in England?' I'd look at players like George Best and Ryan Giggs and know how deep their grieving was at not having the chance. This is the ultimate.''
There will be no reunion with Giggs in Graz because the Welsh captain is injured. The Wales manager, John Toshack, recalled yesterday how he followed Beenhakker into Real Madrid and said the Dutch coach, a good friend, wants to use all 22 fit players in the UPN Arena, formerly the Arnold Schwarzenegger Stadium.
Toshack must field an inexperienced side, with Gareth Bale, 16, among the substitutes. The Southampton defender, a former room-mate of Theo Walcott, will become Wales' youngest ever player if he appears.Reuse content