Yorke and Beckham
Former Manchester United stars and friends, Dwight Yorke and David Beckham will meet for the last time on the international football stage on Sunday.
This as Trinidad and Tobago and England renew their rivalry of the 2006 FIFA World Cup Finals in Nuremberg, Germany.
This time, it’s an international friendly at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain, with both teams preparing for their 2010 World Cup qualifiers.
Yorke accepted an invitation late to play from FIFA Vice President, Austin Jack Warner. Yorke arrived at the T&T training session armed with his boots and ever-beaming smile, ready to represent T&T one last time before his home crowd.
Yorke, who played this season in the English Premier League for Sunderland F.C., was surprised, yet happy when told by a reporter that his friend and long-time teammate, Beckham, now playing with the Los Angeles Galaxy in the MLS, would be wearing the captain’s armband in tomorrow’s match.
He said “Is he? Is that right? Well that’s great for him.”
At the England media conference at midday Saturday, Italian-born England coach, Fabio Capello, announced Beckham as captain for the game: “Beckham this game will be captain. To be captain of England is very important. I think Beckham is one player of good personality.”
Yorke said that he was physically prepared for the game, although his English season with Sunderland FC finished in late May, “I’ve been keeping myself reasonably fit, in the gym, so I’m coming out here to strut my stuff a little bit more.”
Yorke, the ninth highest scorer in Premier League history seemed pleased to be back with some of his World Cup teammates, and new T&T players who were all delighted to be playing with the Tobago-born hero.
He said that the match is a good opportunity for “a couple of players who haven’t had the opportunity to play against the likes of Rio and Beckham.”
Swansea FC defender and T&T qualification-play-off hero, 6ft 7 Dennis Lawrence also came out of retirement from international football to represent the Soca Warriors and contribute to the team’s development.
“I think I still got a lot to offer in terms of passing on to the younger players and I think it’s important they get all the help and guidance, they can get from me.”
Colombian-born T&T coach, Francisco Maturana said he has not discussed with Yorke what his role in the match will be but was pleased that Yorke made himself available, “It’s an excellent opportunity for the people of T&T to express their gratitude to a person who has represented the name of T&T worldwide.”
Maturana said the long-anticipated friendly would be used to reinforce the team in all aspects, “The main point of this match is to strengthen the team in their game and in their morale.”
Former Real Madrid coach, Capello said that he has been pleased with his team’s performance in training in the lead up to this match and during their friendly against the USA last Wednesday.
“I am very happy and satisfied because during these ten days, I saw very nice things and very good attitude and I am very happy for the future and I am convinced that the future will be better with every game.”
Sunderland midfielder, club teammate of both Yorke and T&T striker Kenwyne Jones, Carlos Edwards was injured for a large part of the English season but said injury has not changed his positive style of play and he looks forward to a good result against England.
“I’m just looking forward to the game on Sunday. We just have to wish for the best.” Defender Lawrence adding, “It’s our home game, we’ve got to take the game to them, so we can get a positive result.”
“The enthusiasm is there, and I believe that on the day of the match, the fans will be there.” Said Maturana, the Soca Warriors fans definitely will be packed into the 24, 000 capacity, sold-out Stadium to see their team take on the Three Lions.
The last time the teams met was in the first round of the 2006 World Cup Finals, England winning 2-0 on goals by Steven Gerrard and Peter Crouch.