Sex and the single footballer

I read an interesting interview with football Lothario Dwight Yorke by Paul Kimmage in The Times this morning. He’s doing the rounds after releasing his autobiography, aptly titled Born To Score.

I’ve pasted it below to spare you the pain of the newspaper’s appalling online pagination strategy, which split this across 13 pages without the option of reading it on a single one. (If anyone working there is reading this, please add that functionality. Cheap page impressions impress nobody.)

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the interview. Bottom line – Dwight is a bit of a knob, really. Mind you, he appears to think with his, so it makes sense.

“I had no complaints about his body: he had a fantastic six-pack, gorgeous muscular legs . . . but the chemistry between us wasn’t that strong. Our relationship was superficial. I was used to getting totally involved in my boyfriends’ lives, meeting their family and friends and really getting to know them. Dwight wasn’t like that at all. I just couldn’t get close to him.” — Katie Price, Being Jordan

Dwight Yorke likes to score; close his book and the conclusion is undeniable. He has scored in the back of a Glasgow taxi, on the banks of the Manchester

Dwight Yorke ... football's Lothario.

Dwight Yorke ... football's Lothario.

canal, a hat-trick in just 90 minutes once in Barcelona and four times in 24 hours during his time at Aston Villa. Wham bam thank you ma’am . . . And you ma’am . . . And you ma’am . . . And you.

He has done other stuff as well — cricket with Brian Lara, golf with Seve Ballesteros, a World Cup with Trinidad and Tobago, a League Cup with Villa, a treble with Manchester United — but it’s that old James Brown in him that keeps you turning the pages: “Get up, get on up. Get up, get on up. Stay on the scene, like a sex machine.”

We meet at his favourite hotel in London. He’s wearing a white baseball cap, some impressive bling and a shirt at least two sizes too small for him. Like Jordan, I have no complaints about his body: he has fantastic pecs, clearly muscular legs but I just couldn’t get close to him. Every time I reminded him of something he said in his book he seemed to back away.

The depiction of his father as an abusive, skirt-chasing, wife-beater? It was the nature of Tobagonian culture. The suggestion that his dalliance with Jordan was all about the headlines? He is appalled. And his assessment of Roy Keane’s failings at Sunderland have been misconstrued. “Roy Keane will make an exceptional manager,” he insists, but just not at club level.

Yorke, who is 37, is affable and clearly no fool but surprisingly guarded for a man with a penchant for al fresco love. He won’t do the interview without his personal assistant and repels any attempt to delve beneath his choirboy smile. Maybe there’s nothing there, but I’m not sure.

He clearly has commitment issues — and not just to his opinions. When his son Harvey was born he ran from the delivery room and created more headlines than anything he had achieved in his football career. But it is the birth of his second son, Orlando, that truly fascinates . . .

“I was listening to an interview you gave to Talksport yesterday and you mentioned you had seen Sir Alex Ferguson two days ago? Where was that?”

“At Old Trafford.”

“What were you doing there?”

“I went to see him as normal. I pop in occasionally just for a chat and to give him a book. The first book.”

“Your autobiography?”

“Yes.”

“Had he read the extracts in the News of the World?”

“I’m sure he was prompted . . . whether he read all of it, I don’t know.”

“Did he say anything about it?”

“No, he was quite . . . he left a message on my answering service [the night before] saying, ‘Mr Yorke, I’ve got my lawyers in place. You are banned from Old Trafford. You are banned from Tobago’. So I went to see him.”

“Did he say anything about Roy Keane?”

“No, it wasn’t mentioned.”

“Not at all?”

“No, we haven’t spoken about Roy.”

“Roy didn’t send you a text?”

“I certainly haven’t got a text from Roy this time round, no.”

“Well, it probably wouldn’t be too dissimilar to the last one [‘Go f*ck yourself’] you got.”

“Or it might be worse,” he smiles.

“Have you read many books?” I ask.

“The last book I read was Bill Clinton’s, believe it or not.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, I was fascinated at the insight into the most powerful man in the world at the time.”

“That’s interesting, I wouldn’t have picked that one.”

“There you go.”

“What did you learn about him?”

“What goes on in a president’s mind, how he has to work on a day-to-day basis and all the razzmatazz of his little . . .” He pauses and tries to find the word.

“Problem,” I suggest.

“Yeah.”

“His woman problem?”

“Yeah,” he smiles. “I find that fascinating.”

“So you have one thing in common,” I suggest.

“Do we?” he smiles.

“A woman problem.” He laughs.

“In the book, you write about your father’s problem, ‘I would later learn that most men on the island were what you would call womanisers and I’m sure my dad was no different’.”

“Yeah, well, that’s probably about right.”

“Would you class yourself as a womaniser?”

“I class myself as a man who enjoys women’s company, yeah.”

“Is that the same thing?”

“I don’t know, that’s for you to decide.”

“You lost your virginity at age 12 on a beach with an older girl.”

He starts laughing. “Why are you laughing?”

“I’m just a smiley type of guy.”

“Twelve is pretty young, isn’t it?”

“Yeah, very young. Don’t ask me how all that happened but even at that age I had a name in and around the village because of my football and stuff, so whether that attracted an older woman to a younger boy, I don’t know. I didn’t know what was happening at the time but it did happen.”

“There was a great American basketball player once called Wilt Chamberlain. Ever heard of him?”

“I’ve heard the name.”

“He reckoned that he had slept with 20,000 women during the course of his career.”

“I know who you are talking about now.”

“What about you?”

“I have no idea.”

“You don’t count?”

“I don’t count.”

“Four in 24 hours . . . Is that not counting?”

“That was a one-off.”

“What about love?” He chuckles. “Do you believe in true love?”

“I would like to think so but I haven’t experienced it, hence I am still single.”

“Is the reason you haven’t experienced it because you made a decision that when you meet a girl it’s for one night and that’s it?”

“No, it’s not like that at all.”

“That’s what you say in the book.”

“What! That it’s a one-off?”

“You say that girls knew when they went to bed with you that there was no commitment or, to quote you precisely, ‘No awkward I’ll-call-you moment’.”

“Well, no commitment doesn’t mean I won’t see them anymore. I’ve seen people [women] for months and it got to the stage where either they want more or it just hasn’t worked out. That’s what I meant. It’s not just a one-night stand.”

“Is love not commitment?”

“Yes, love is clearly commitment.”

“But you weren’t prepared to go that far?”

“Well, why go there if it’s not right? And it wasn’t right, not just from my point of view but often from the other person’s point of view.”

“So you’ve been smitten but not to the extent that you wanted to settle down?”

“Well, I was smitten by a few people.”

“Okay, let’s talk about one of them. We’re here in the Sanderson Hotel and you stayed here the first time you met Jordan [in December, 2000]. You had just drawn at Charlton and had been given Sunday off and were ready to hit the town. You meet at a club, buy her a drink, dance, find a McDonald’s and she surprises you by not wanting to have sex. Is that a fair representation of what happened?”

Yorke with Jordan ... she wanted what he couldn't give her.

Yorke with Jordan ... she wanted what he couldn't give her.

“Pretty much.”

“In the book you write, ‘All I got was a bag of chicken nuggets and the definite sense of anti-climax. We’ll see, I thought, we’ll see’.”

“What did ‘We’ll see’ mean? That you would see her again?”

“Correct.”

“Why did you pursue it? What was the attraction of Jordan?”

“She’s an attractive girl, without a doubt. I enjoyed her company, the drinks and the little smooch we had. It was a good night and I felt comfortable . . . itwas nothing to do with [her] celebrity because I was playing for United so . . .”

“You describe going into training [on Monday] and saying, ‘Lads, you’re not going to believe who I was out with on Saturday.’ Was that part of the attraction? The bragging rights?”

“It wasn’t bragging rights. My team-mates knew I was out in London so it was like, ‘What’s happening?’ And I said, ‘You wouldn’t believe who I met’. It certainly wasn’t bragging rights.”

“In another passage you describe it as ‘the old Caribbean thing, the need to be the top man with the top girl’.”

“Is that a bad thing?” he asks.

“Is there not a certain insecurity in that?”

“I certainly didn’t feel insecure, not at all.”

“You say there are two sides to Jordan and that you liked the Katie Price side but were repelled by the monster — my description — Jordan. But you weren’t attracted to Katie, it was Jordan you pursued?”

“But that’s all I knew of her, I didn’t know her as Katie.”

“Okay, so you pursue her and you get together and you sleep together and the next day you go looking in the papers to, and I quote, ‘assess the interest’. Isn’t the bottom line here that you were as big a media whore as she was?”

“I don’t remember making that quote.”

“Would you like me to show it to you?”

“I take your word for it but I can’t remember saying that I actually went out the next day to look at the papers . . . anybody who knows me knows that’s not my style.”

Yorke’s brief and tempestuous relationship with Jordan marked the tipping point of his career. Tabloid fodder, he was dubbed “The King of Pornography” by the fanzines and shown the door by Ferguson. This is how he describes it in the book: “The news was crushing. Those were the lowest days of my career and now the determined bachelor at Old Trafford was paying for his single life. There was nobody around to find comfort with. Just a big empty house packed with possessions and material wealth.” The penny had finally dropped. Or had it?

“You describe that period of your life as extremely lonely. Was the need for sex a compensation for that?”

“At that time I think I used drink more.”

“Yes, but on other occasions . . . You had to have sex, were crazy for sex.”

“Yeah.”

“But you make several references to being lonely?”

“Yes.”

“Was sex a compensation for that?”

“It wasn’t just a need to have sex but a need to be with a woman. I didn’t sleep with every woman I met straight away. It may come across as that but it’s not.”

“Okay, well try and explain it to me, ‘The determined bachelor at Old Trafford was paying for his single life’.”

“I think at those times you probably need somebody you are in love with, or can find that comfort with; somebody you can be intimate with and share your life and talk to about different things.”

“But that’s an investment, isn’t it?”

“Of course.”

“Was it a regret?”

“There’s times in your career when you sit in your house and think, ‘I wish I gave this one [relationship] a better go and tried to make the situation work’.”

“But it didn’t change you?”

“No, not at all.”

“Why not?”

“Because I clearly didn’t feel comfortable committing myself at that time to whoever that person was. I enjoy my bachelor life. I’ve seen the hurtfulness when players divorce — and I’m not using that as an excuse. I didn’t meet the right person to make that one commitment.”

“Okay, well let’s talk about meeting the right person. You leave United for Blackburn and then Birmingham and meet Naomi. She doesn’t want anything to do with you at first but you pursue her and start a relationship. Then you get an offer to play in Sydney — ‘One of the most exciting capitals in the world packed with beautiful women. Could I commit to asking Naomi to join me with those thoughts in my head? I don’t think so.’ So you went to Sydney without her?”

“I went there without her, yeah.”

“Did you keep in touch?”

“She visited.”

“But it’s fair to say you weren’t celibate down there?”

“I had a good time.”

“You return to Manchester to prepare for the World Cup and resume your relationship with Naomi?”

“Yeah.”

“And then you meet a TV presenter, Charlotte Jackson, and begin a relationship with her.”

“It was a progressive thing with Charlotte — what is your point?”

“My point is that you were seeing both of them at the same time?”

“Yeah.”

“Okay, this is the bit I don’t understand. You ask Naomi if she would like to have a baby?”

“Correct.”

“At a time when you are seeing Charlotte Jackson?”

“Yes.”

“Okay, now the reason that you give in the book for asking Jordan to have an abortion is because your relationship was going nowhere, and there’s a certain logic to that. What was the logic in asking Naomi to have your child at a time when you are seeing Charlotte Jackson? You won’t make a commitment to her but you want her to have your child.”

“How do you know what Naomi wants?”

“I don’t know. I’m presuming you asked her because that’s how you present it in the book.”

“Yes, I asked her to have a kid. Naomi was the one person in my life that I came close to really loving but I was smitten by Miss Jackson and I enjoyed my time with her and I was very much torn between them but I knew Naomi would have this kid and that’s how it panned out.”

“Given how strongly you felt for Naomi, why didn’t you make a commitment and give it a shot.”

“I knew you would ask that question,” he says.

“Is it not a fair question?”

“I think it is.”

“The issue again is commitment and this step you won’t make.”

“Yeah, but there was no particular reason behind it; I don’t think I’m afraid of commitment.”

“That’s how it appears.”

“Okay, but I think I am so used to a certain way of living and knowing I don’t have to answer to anybody at the end of the day. Maybe that’s what it all comes down to.”

“Naomi gave birth to your son, Orlando, in 2007. What’s the state of your relationship now?”

“Great, absolutely fantastic.”

“What does that mean?”

“It means great. I hook up with her when we can and we share each other’s company with the kid, share time that way, and that’s fantastic. I couldn’t ask for anything better at this stage.”

“But you don’t actually live together?”

“No.”

“She is still in Birmingham?”

“Yeah.”

“And she is okay with that?”

“I dunno . . . as far as I know she is very okay with it, yeah. We have a very good understanding.”

The interview is drawing to a close. I ask how it felt, standing in front of the camera and making the ad for the News of the World. His commitment was a surprise.

“I wasn’t 100 per cent comfortable with it but it was all part and parcel of trying to get the story and the book out there. Sometimes you have to do the ugly side of things. You don’t really want to but it comes with the territory.”

“But you have a choice in that,” I suggest.

“I suppose so but if you want to get your book out there and your story across then there are certain things that you have to do.”

“Not have to, choose to do,” I interject.

“Okay, choose to do,” he concurs.

We have reached the bottom line.

Born To Score by Dwight Yorke, Macmillan, £17.99
– This story appeared originally in The Times

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