When Roy Keane arrived at Sunderland, there was a clear sense he was buying players that he trusted. A rookie to management, Keane probably felt comfortable purchasing players he knew on and off the pitch - and one’s who he felt could do a job without much risk to their purchase.
Bar Stan Varga - who arrived for his second spell - all the players that Keane drafted in on the final day of that transfer window had a very positive impact on the team. The former manager has suggested this in more recent times when he spoke to Sky for their production of Mackem Miracle.
I think I knew all the players that came in, I’d had some experience of working with them before as players at club level, international level or at Celtic. They came in and they made my job a lot easier let me tell you.
On this day in 1971, Dwight Yorke - one of Keane’s first purchases - was born in a small village called Caanan in Trinidad and Tobago.
By the time Yorke arrived in Sunderland he had already had a glittering career with domestic and European success coming with Aston Villa, Manchester United with moves to Blackburn and Birmingham following in England.
A natural goalscorer, his stats at Villa and United were particularly impressive. His relationship with Andy Cole up front was one of the most iconic duos of the late nineties - and massive role in the European success that Sir Alex Ferguson’s men had.
By the time the transfer to Sunderland was mooted, Yorke was in the swansong of his career - with a move to Sydney FC suggesting that he was certainly winding down.
At this stage, he was playing as a holding midfielder using his knowledge and wealth of experience to get him through games. This was something Keane felt he needed at his new club - along with the bubbly personality that he was renowned for.
I knew he’d lighten the mood, the players would like him, the staff loved him because he was coming in on the morning and always seemed happy. He was the opposite to me. I knew he would be a big help and the players loved him.
Yorke’s motives must be respected considering he was living it up in Sydney with a penthouse looking over Sydney Harbour. One can think of many footballers who would take the easier option and ignore the phone call. Yorke was up for the challenge - and his relationship with the Irishman certainly helped sway him.
He was over in Sydney and obviously he was their franchise player. I remember ringing him from the training ground - I’m not sure on the time difference but I rang him and it was pretty bleak. I remember looking out the window at the training ground, I think on a good day at Sunderland it’s pretty bleak, I think the average winds were about 80mph.
I rang him, I said ‘Yorkey do you fancy coming to Sunderland?’ He said ‘Are you serious?’ and I said yeah. He had a penthouse on Sydney Harbour but I said that would always be there, you can always go back to that. I said we’ve got a big challenge here but I knew deep down he loved the game and I knew he fancied the challenge.
There is no doubting the contribution that he made to Sunderland between 2006 and 2009. His winning mentality, ability to get a goal and his link between players and manager doubtless proved crucial for the team.
Yorke’s performances were crucial in certain games with matches against West Brom, Newcastle and Arsenal memorable.
The player made almost sixty appearances for the club with six goals to his name. His name will always be positively associated with one of the better times supporting this club in recent history.
Happy Birthday Yorkie!