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The Camden Cad
Aug 24, 2004
North London

What would you do if you were a professional footballer? How would you act? I know what you're going to say, you're going to say the same as me. You're going to say that you'd give it everything. You're going to say that you'd be tee-total, that you'd train hard, that you'd respect your manager and that you'd give your all for the fans. But would you really? Or would you be like Dwight Yorke and split your life between your work and the far more entertaining pastime of having sex with as many beautiful women as you can? Ah, that's got you thinking, hasn't it?

Yorke's knowingly titled autobiography 'Born To Score' was released last month amid much media fanfare, but very few of those headlines had anything to do with football. Yorke won the treble with Manchester United and he very nearly led his nation to an incredible result against England in the World Cup, but he still spent as much of his career on the front pages as he did the back. This is the kind of thing that happens, you see, when you chase women with as much enthusiasm as he does.

Yorke was signed by Aston Villa after impressing then-manager Graham Taylor with a spell-binding performance during a sun-drenched tour match in the summer of 1989. He found England to be cold, wet and miserable, but the wages of GBP200 a week and the friendship of the people around him made up for it. Incredibly, he was then the sober chauffeur to his bawdy team-mates, a chirpy dynamo quietly learning his trade, living in digs and concentrating on his career. Then he bought his first house at the age of 20 and things changed. He discovered booze, parties and women. Well, actually he'd already discovered women several years prior to that, when he lost his virginity at the age of 12, but that's another story.

Bursting out of the cocoon like a sex-starved butterfly, the Yorke legend was born. A string of different women? Check! Married women? Check! Four different women in 24 hours? Check! Quite where he found either the time or the energy for football is a matter for wiser minds than my own, but by the time he moved to Manchester United in 1998, he was already on the radar of the increasingly celebrity obsessed tabloids. A succession of women came and went at rapid pace, but then, in 2000, he began his disastrous liaison with the vulgar and trashy model Katie 'Jordan' Price. The gradual collapse of their relationship mirrors the disintegration of his career as a top level footballer. Despite frequent warnings and explosive rollickings from Sir Alex Ferguson, he continues to pop up in the papers, he is caught drinking before a match, he skips a flight back from international duty to party in Trinidad and is finally sold off to Blackburn Rovers.

British comedy has long been based on the premise that a strong central character should be entirely unaware of their failings or the effect of those failings on the people around them. Writers strive for years to create figures as unknowingly inept as Basil Fawlty, David Brent or Adrian Mole, but Yorke could have saved them all so much time. This is his own book, his own words, but he still comes across as so cripplingly naive that it's a wonder he's still with us.

The sections on Jordan, for example, are unintentionally hilarious works of genius. He reveals that the former soft-porn model refused his sexual advances for weeks. Every other woman he mentions seems to hop into bed with him within minutes, but not this one. Sadly, he never seems to put two and two together and realise why he felt compelled to pursue her so vigorously. He fumes that the paparazzi always seem to know where the two of them are going to be, even when they change their plans at the last minute and then, without blinking, complains that Jordan was obsessed with her media profile and loved playing for the cameras. Whoever could have tipped off the press about their destination, eh? Maybe Jordan, he admits. "But maybe it was a newspaper tapping my phone." Yeah...erm, maybe.

When she falls pregnant, he gamely tries to make a go of it with her, but her refusal to interact with his family and her growing narcissism make it impossible. Later, he meets a beautiful down-to-earth woman called Naomi who gives him love, independence and adores his relatives. Cut off now from his first child, he suggests that they have a baby together before darting off to enjoy a dalliance with a TV presenter. When Naomi tells him that she's pregnant, he tells her about his affair and they break up. Despite the fact that, "a day didn't go by without my talking to Naomi and checking how she was," Yorke misses the birth of his second child because, "although she had told me which hospital she would be at, I'm afraid I couldn't remember it." He can't even ask anyone because apparently there were 'issues with Naomi's parents'. I bet there were...There might be some issues with his first child in a few years as well. Yorke dedicates the book to, "Harvey, so that he may know the truth," but he still spends several of pages describing how he begged Jordan to abort him.

On the odd occasion that he does stray back to the subject of football, the results are equally disastrous. He rages at Phil Thompson for apparently convincing Gerard Houllier not to sign him for Liverpool on the basis that he had a reputation as a party animal. Then, within half a page and without a shred of irony, he reveals that in the same period he turned down a lucrative move to Middlesbrough because, "there was not exactly a great (party) scene going on up there."

You can't really accuse Yorke of throwing his career away because he won the treble and played in a World Cup, but he certainly seems to have gone out of his way to sabotage his personal life. There are some genuinely touching moments in this book, like the generous welcome that Sir Alex Ferguson gives him when he returns to Old Trafford in 2006 to get match-fit for the World Cup, but for the most part this is an incredibly frustrating book to read. Indeed, there are times when you just want to beat Yorke over the head with it while shouting, "Stop being so stupid!" Still think you'd devote your career to the party scene? Read this and you might just think again....

'Dwight Yorke - Born To Score' is available at www.panmacmillan.com for GBP17.99. You can get there quickly by typing http://bit.ly/1a5X8B