Dwight Yorke is this week’s Premier League hero.
Dwight Yorke was a huge name in the Premier League from the early 90s right up until 2005 when he left for Australia, returning to English football once again however in 2006 when he joined Sunderland.
Yorke played a total of 15 seasons in the top flight with Aston Villa, Manchester United, Blackburn Rovers, Birmingham and Sunderland while he also played in plenty of different positions, such as on the right wing for a time at Villa and as a defensive midfielder at Sunderland but he played at his best as a prolific striker.
Yorke won two League Cups with Villa, three Premier League titles, an FA Cup and a Champions League title with United during his time with English sides. Yorke also won plenty of individual awards such as Premier League Player of the Month three times, named in the PFA Team of the Year once, Premier League Golden boot in 98/99, Player of the Season in 98/99 and Champions League’s top scorer in 98/99. In total, he scored 123 Premier League goals in 375 appearances.
Dwight Eversley Yorke was born on the 3rd of November and began playing football in his native Trinidad and Tobago. Aston Villa boss Graham Taylor spotted Yorke at a friendly game during Villa’s summer tour in the West Indies in 1989.
Yorke was offered a trial at Villa and it wasn’t long until that deal was made permanent. He made his debut for the Villans in a loss to Crystal Palace. The Premier League began in the 92/93 season and Dwight Yorke scored six times in 27 league games as Villa finished second in the first ever season.
Villa slipped to tenth in the 93/94 season and Yorke only scored twice in 12 appearances in the league but Villa and Yorke enjoyed some success as they lifted the League Cup, beating United 3-1 in the final on the 27th of March 1994. Yorke made Villa history as his goal on the final day of the 93/94 season was the last goal ever scored in front of the standing Holte End before that iconic area of Villa Park was made an all-seated stand.
Villa’s form in the league worsened in the 94/95 season as they slipped even further in the league, finishing only one spot above the relegation zone.
It seemed as though Yorke couldn’t find any form at Villa but it turned out that they were playing him out of position on the right wing and his form quickly improved when Villa played him as a striker in the 95/96 season.
Villa and Yorke made a huge improvement in the 95/96 season as they shot up to fourth. Yorke managed 17 league goals in 35 appearances. He became a Villa hero due to their huge improvement in the league but he also managed to score in the League Cup final as Villa beat Leeds United 3-0 in the final on the 24th of March 1996.
Yorke began the 96/97 season just as he finished the last as he scored another 17 league goals in 37 league appearances, including a hat trick against Newcastle on the 30th of September 1996 as Villa ended up finished 5th.
Unfortunately for Villa fans this was the last season that Yorke stayed at Villa Park as he left the club on bad terms. The controversy started as Manchester United had a bid rejected by Villa who stated they would only agree to sell if they got Andy Cole as part of the deal.
United refused to let Cole go and the deal fell through. Dwight Yorke began the 97/98 season at Villa and played in a game against Everton where he looked unhappy and put in little effort. Villa refused to have a player at the club that wouldn’t put in the full effort and were left with no choice but to let Yorke move to United for £12.6m.
Yorke had an outstanding first season at Old Trafford as he created an iconic partnership with Andy Cole and scored 18 league goals which made him the Premier League’s top goalscorer in the 98/99 season.
Yorke was also named the Champions League top goalscorer in the same season and scored important goals such as his strikes against Barcelona, Inter Milan and Juventus. As well as this success, Yorke also enjoyed winning the Premier League title and the FA cup with United in his first season at the club.
The striker scored 22 goals in all competitions in the 99/00 season as United won the Premier League title again but he only managed nine league goals in the 00/01 season including a hat-trick during a 6-1 thrashing of Arsenal which led to United winning the league.
The 01/02 season led to speculation that Yorke fell out with United boss Sir Alex Ferguson as his game time was limited which led to Yorke only scoring once in 10 league games. The striker almost left for Middlesbrough in the January transfer window of 2002 but the deal fell through and he instead signed for Blackburn Rovers for £2m in the summer of 2002.
Dwight Yorke arrived at Blackburn determined to prove that he could be a top player after his dismal 01/02 season at United and this was helped by the fact that he was reunited with Andy Cole when he arrived at Ewood Park. Yorke scored 13 goals in all competitions including 8 in the Premier League in the 02/03 season as Blackburn finished 6th in the Premier League which meant they would have UEFA Cup football the following season. Yorke only managed 4 goals in 23 league appearances in the 03/04 season as Blackburn fell to 15th and there was rumours that he had a bust up with Blackburn manager Graeme Souness which led to him leaving for Birmingham City in the summer of 2004.
Yorke won over the Birmingham fans with a goal on his home debut against Charlton despite the fact that he used to play for Aston Villa. The striker scored again against Newcastle but they were the only two goals he scored for the club as he spent most of the remainder of the season on the bench which led to him being released by Birmingham after only eight months at the club. Yorke signed for Australian side Sydney FC in a big money deal but returned to England a year later when he signed for Sunderland.
Sunderland confirmed the signing of Dwight Yorke on the 31st of August 2006 and he was reunited with former team mate Roy Keane who was manager of Sunderland at the time. Dwight Yorke won the Championship with Sunderland in his first season at the club which meant they would be promoted to the Premier League. The 07/08 season meant the return of Yorke and Sunderland to the Premier League but Yorke made most of his appearances as a defensive midfielder rather than a forward for Roy Keane’s Sunderland which meant he only scored once in 20 appearances in the 07/08 season as Sunderland finished 15th.
Yorke signed a one year extension with Sunderland in the summer of 2008 and then put in a man of the match performance in a 1-1 draw against Arsenal on the 4th of October 2008 but he only made 7 appearances for Sunderland in the 08/09 season and was released by the club in the summer of 2009.