UTD Podcast: Why I live every day to the full
Over the years of Sir Alex Ferguson's stewardship at Manchester United, players from different eras all picked up words of wisdom from the former boss, and, with Dwight Yorke, that was no exception.
Yorkie joined Helen Evans, Sam Homewood and David May in the latest episode of UTD Podcast, which is available to listen to now via Apple, Spotify, Deezer and other providers. In another revealing edition of the show, Yorkie also told a story from his childhood, which has a lasting impact on his life to this day.
Dwight joined the Reds in the summer of 1998 and would go on to forge a legendary strike partnership with Andy Cole, which helped United to win the Treble in his debut season. However, the legend would soon discover after his second season, which saw a smaller output in front of goal, the boss had some stern words for the forward.
“I didn’t quite get it. I mean obviously now I understand where he was coming from, knowing the manager himself a little bit more. That was my second year. I finished top scorer, I think, with 26 goals in total over the season. First year 29, second year 26. The manager said I was a failure. I didn’t get it at the time. I look back now and I totally understand where he was coming from.
“I understand that, each year, you need to better yourself and I didn’t do that. At the time, even though I felt I justified myself as his number one striker, being top scorer for two years running. I felt that was a great return. Don’t forget that the FA Cup was taken away from us. We didn’t play in the FA Cup.
“A lot has been said about it because the lads probably enjoyed themselves in Brazil but we didn’t get a chance to defend our FA Cup which again, with the team that we had and the way we went on to win the Premier League that year, who is to say we were not capable of defending the FA Cup? So that was an opportunity gone, for whatever reason, on the political side of football, that we as players didn’t get involved in but that was a big blow to us because we didn’t get to defend the FA Cup that year. Maybe I could have finished up with more goals.
“When you look at Messi and the Ronaldos of this world each year, they come back and try to better their target and I didn’t quite see that. I understand it fully now, clearly, now that I’m out of the game and I’m a lot wiser. While being in the bubble, I felt being top scorer at United, it was enough to justify my argument but in the manager’s eyes I was supposed to be better the following year and I wasn’t. I get it now but I didn’t get it at the time but I understand where he was coming from.
“So having those experiences and those things in your head, understand that each day, each moment when you are training, you have got to keep pushing yourself to get better every season and not just sit on your laurels. Not that I did that year but I understand where he was coming from.”
As well as looking back several key moments that shaped his career, Yorkie revealed a heart-stopping moment from his childhood, and how what unfolded still effects him to this day, in terms of how he lives his life.
“A lot of people don’t know [about it], unless you know me personally and have seen it [his large scar on his back]. It’s not something I obviously go around and showcase around the world to everyone. The reality is I don’t know much about it. When I was two years of age, my sister and I went to the shop.
“She was holding my hand. One of my other sisters was across the road by the bus-stop, waiting for the bus to come along. So we went into the shop and of course, as a kid, she just took her eye off me for that one moment. In that one moment, I ran out, my sister was waving across the road to me, I kind of ran out towards her not knowing that cars were coming from both sides.
“I honestly have no recollection of anything. I have no idea, I have just been told this story over and over. Maybe one little vivid thing, I remember coming out of the hospital. I’ve been told I spent six months in the hospital as a kid, 1973, think about it, in a third-world country. I was told that there was a doctor in the car behind and somehow he was a Chinese doctor. What was a Chinese guy doing in the Caribbean at the time?
“So I had my guardian angel looking over me and that’s how I was saved by this doctor. I don’t know who he is, I have never met him, don’t know where is he’s from, anything about it. I literally should not have been here. I was given a second chance in life.”
This second chance means that now, even though his playing days are behind him, Dwight still lives every day to the full.
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“I do live more on a daily basis. I take things as they come. I don’t think about the distant future. For what I’ve been through, even though I have very little recollection of it, it makes me realise that you are not here on this earth for a long time and you have got to enjoy and you got to embrace it for what it is. I was given that second chance, to play football at this level. That’s why I am where I am. When you see me in the morning and I’m all happy and chirpy and all that, I think that it all stems from my upbringing back home.”