Former Manchester United striker Dwight Yorke scored over 150 goals in a career spanning 20 years. Now a Sky Sports pundit, Yorke spoke exclusively with SoccerBible about his favourite football boots, next season’s Premier League title race and why Robin Van Persie should head to Old Trafford.
SoccerBible sat down with Dwight Yorke at the official opening of the Mizuno Performance Centre in London, which is open until August 12th. The Performance Centre offers an Olympic experience, as free-of-charge events offer unique interactivity.
What do you make of the new Mizuno Morelia Neo MD football boots?
Dwight Yorke: The technology is incredible. The boots are so light and feel great. They fit just like a pair of slippers. You don’t have to break them in, they’re comfortable and ready to be played in straight away.
How much have boots changed since you started playing?
DY: They’ve changed immensely. When I first started playing football my boots were heavy, they felt like lead. The studs weren’t very good and there wasn’t much choice. The new Mizuno boots are light, soft and comfortable.
Can you remember your first pair of football boots? How much did they cost?
DY: My very first football boots were black and made by Puma. I think they cost about £23!
Have you kept any special pairs of boots? If so, why?
DY: I’ve kept the Mizuno boots that I wore in the 1999 Champions League Final for Manchester United. I didn’t score but it was a very special game for me and the team.
What’s the best pair of boots you’ve ever worn?
DY: I’d have to say the Mizuno boots I wore in the Champions League Final. Mizuno designed a special pair of boots for me to match my kit that night.
We’re less than a month away from the start of the new Premier League season, how much are you looking forward to it?
DY: It’s exciting. If next season is anything like the one we’ve just had then it’s going to be something special. The Premier League is the biggest and best league in the world. It has raised the bar in terms of what we expect from football. I’m sure millions of people can’t wait for the new season to start.
Manchester City beat Manchester United to the title on the final day of last season. How do you expect the title race to go next season?
DY: I think it could be very similar. It’ll be tense and exciting with some nail-biting moments I’m sure.
How will Sir Alex Ferguson and the Manchester United players be feeling after the way last season ended?
DY: Losing the title to Manchester City on the final day will have hurt them immensely. I’m sure they’ve learnt a lot from that experience and they will be determined to come back stronger next season.
Can any other clubs challenge United and City at the top of the league?
DY: I think the title race will be between three teams next season – Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea. Chelsea have to be considered because of the way they finished last season and the signings they’ve made so far.
What have you made of the summer transfer window so far? Which club has made the best signings?
DY: It’s too early to say at the moment as there always seems to be a last-minute dash towards the end of the transfer window. The Olympics are another distraction so I don’t expect to see the big signings made until just before the season kicks off.
Manchester United have signed Shinji Kagawa and Nick Powell so far. What other areas does Sir Alex Ferguson need to strengthen?
DY: I’m not sure that’s for me to say. I’m sure Sir Alex knows exactly where he wants to strengthen and what players he’d like to bring in. Manchester United are always strong in every area.
In terms of the players he’s signed, I don’t think too much will be expected of them next season. Sir Alex will rely on his more experienced players to try and take back the title from Manchester City. He’s building a team for the next five years.
The club have also been strongly linked with a move for Robin Van Persie. How highly do you rate him as a striker? Could he fit into United’s first XI?
DY: I think he’s a fantastic player with a special talent. He’s had a lot of injury problems in the past but last season he proved he could stay fit and deliver on the pitch. He’s at a very crucial stage of his career where he wants to win trophies before he retires. There’s no better place than Old Trafford to do that.
The partnership of Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck has been likened to yourself and Andy Cole by some in the media. What do you make of them as a duo?
DY: Danny Welbeck is a good player who is only going to improve as time goes on. He’s young, quick and seems to complement Wayne Rooney well. We all know what a special player Rooney is. They make a good partnership.
If Van Persie does sign then United have great options up-front. Chicharito struggled slightly last season but those four players would be a force to be reckoned with.
Another of your former clubs, Aston Villa, have a new manager in Paul Lambert. What do you think he will bring to the club?
DY: Villa have been on a downward spiral ever since Martin O’Neill left the club. They struggled last season and were a little fortunate to avoid relegation. The club is very close to my heart and I hope Paul Lambert can bring some new ideas.
He did very well with Colchester United and Norwich City and now he’s got a big chance with Villa. Hopefully he will get the team playing as well as I know they can.
What would constitute a successful season for Villa given their performance last season?
DY: I think a mid-table finish should be their goal. That would be success considering how poorly they did last season. I don’t think they should be aiming above that yet. A top-half finish would be great.
If you could give one prediction for the 2012/13 Premier League season, what would it be?
DY: I think the title race will go down to the wire again. Chelsea will push both the Manchester clubs but I think it’ll be United or City that wins it.
And finally, do you see your future in the TV studio or the dugout?
DY: I’ll be working full-time on Sky Sports as a pundit next season. But I am also doing my coaching badges. Hopefully, with a little bit of luck, I’ll get a break into management one day.
Dwight Yorke was speaking at the official opening of the Mizuno Performance Centre – open to the public between the 24th July and 12th August at Centre Point Building, 101-103 New Oxford Street. Visit www.mizunoseiei.com for further details. let us know what you think online, on Twitter and on Facebook.