Few Manchester United players can claim to have enjoyed a debut season quite like Dwight Yorke, who had a huge impact during the iconic 1998/99 campaign following his arrival from Aston Villa.
The former Trinidad and Tobago international will be back at Old Trafford on Sunday for the Treble Reunion match, which will raise vital funds for the Manchester United Foundation to support children in the local area.
“When I embarked on my journey to play football, I knew I was going to do something but I didn’t think it was going to be as big as this [winning the Treble]. This [Treble Reunion] match will bring back the memories of a lifetime. A unique bunch of players will be able to celebrate probably the greatest achievement in the history of Manchester United Football Club.”
THE STORY OF YORKE IN 1998/99
Alex Ferguson secured the services of Yorke from top-flight rivals Aston Villa as the transfer deadline loomed in August 1998 and, in doing so, recruited a vital piece in the jigsaw. With Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Andy Cole and Teddy Sheringham already on the books, there was fierce competition in the striking department but Yorkie would go on to enjoy a magnificent debut campaign.
He was a key player in our unprecedented Treble success, ending the campaign with 29 goals in all competitions. Forming a hugely effective partnership with Coley, the no.19 introduced himself to Old Trafford with a brace on his home debut against Charlton and went on to net 18 times in the Premier League to earn the division’s Player of the Season award as its leading scorer. His outstanding efforts also earned him a place in the PFA Premier League Team of the Year.
Yorkie was also the joint-top scorer in the Champions League, netting seven crucial goals during our journey to glory at the Nou Camp. He contributed four during the group stage – including a brace in the thrilling 3-3 draw away at Barcelona. The frontman also notched a double in the 2-0 win over Inter Milan in the quarter-final first leg at Old Trafford before coming up with a crucial goal in the 3-2 win at Juventus in the semi-final second leg.
DWIGHT’S OUTSTANDING MOMENT
There were many individual moments of brilliance to choose from, but we have gone for Yorkie’s brilliant brace against Chelsea in the FA Cup quarter-final replay. After the original tie finished goalless at Old Trafford, the striker sealed a memorable 2-0 victory at Stamford Bridge with a close-range finish early on and sumptuous finish from outside the box in the second half.
EXPERT INSIGHT AND OPINION
His former strike partner Andy Cole:
“When we started playing together, it was like meeting a special woman and falling in love. Everything felt right, we never had a cross word.”
Former United captain and team-mate Roy Keane:
Dwight Yorke had a big personality in the dressing room.
Former United boss Sir Alex Ferguson:
Dwight Yorke gave an immediate response. He was fantastic from day one. It normally takes some time, particularly if they come from abroad to settle in, but he was an exception.
WHAT HAPPENED AFTER THE TREBLE SEASON?
Dwight played his part in helping the Reds retain the Premier League trophy in 1999/2000, contributing 22 goals in all competitions. But limited appearances in the two subsequent seasons led to his departure in 2002 to Blackburn Rovers, where he rejoined his old United strike partner Andy Cole.
After two years at Ewood Park, he had one season at his former club Aston Villa’s fierce rivals Birmingham City before moving to Australia to spend a year with Sydney FC in the A-League. In the summer of 2006, Yorke moved back to England to sign for Sunderland, who were managed by his former United team-mate Roy Keane, where he spent three seasons before announcing his retirement in September 2009.
He then spent a period as assistant manager of the Trinidad and Tobago national team, before becoming a television pundit and later a club ambassador at United. He captained Trinidad and Tobago at the 2006 World Cup in Germany earning a historic 0-0 draw with Sweden in its opening Group match before holding England scoreless for 83 minutes before Peter Crouch broke the deadlock and Steven Gerrard sealed the win for the Three Lions.