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DWIGHT YORKE last night opened his heart

The out-of-favour striker rejected a £6.25 million move to Middlesbrough last week — prompting claims he would be exiled from United's first-team squad by Sir Alex Ferguson.

The United boss intended to unload Yorke and replace him with West Ham's Paolo Di Canio before last Thursday's Champions League transfer deadline.

The Trinidad and Tobago international (top right) was accused of sabotaging Fergie's plans by being too greedy and making a £60,000-a-week wage demand.

But in an exclusive News of the World interview, Yorke insisted he pulled out of the move to the Riverside because he was still totally committed to the United cause.

And the striker, who took Old Trafford by storm when he moved from Aston Villa for £12.5 million in 1998, vowed he would convince both Sir Alex and the man who eventually succeeds him as manager that he is worth a regular first team spot.

Sunderland, Aston Villa, Fulham and Spanish club Real Betis have also shown an interest in him but Yorke will resist any attempt to lure him away — and has vowed to earn a new United contract.

He said: "From the moment I joined Manchester United, I have never wanted to play for any other club. It has always been my dream to spend the rest of my career at Old Trafford and I am still hoping that will be the case.

"I have known for a few weeks that there has been interest in me from several clubs in the Premiership and abroad.

"I have friends at Middlesbrough, both on the coaching staff and the playing side, and when I was given permission to talk to them I felt I owed it to them to discuss what they had to offer.

"I have a great deal of respect for their manager Steve McClaren.

"I enjoyed our working relationship when he moved from Derby to United and have always regarded him as a top-quality coach who is going to become a first-rate manager.

"When I spoke to Steve we only talked about football. He explained how he wanted to fit me into his side — not just as a goalscorer but someone who could play a key part in the general attacking build-up play.

"Steve and I never talked about money. That was left to my agents SFX to meet with Boro chairman Steve Gibson and chief executive Keith Lamb."

We understand that Yorke's basic wage package at Boro would have been less than £30,000 a week. But if Boro had qualified for Europe and he was the Premiership's top scorer, he could have doubled his money with bonuses.

The striker is adamant that money did not play any part in the breakdown of the transfer.

Yorke said: "I have never considered myself greedy. I grew up in Tobago surrounded by poverty and no one appreciates more than me that footballers live a very privileged life.

"I would never overstep the mark with my wage demands. The reason the move didn't go ahead was that I had a gut feeling that I shouldn't leave United.

"If I had gone to the Riverside it is true to say there was a fair chance that I could have walked into the dressing room most weeks and saw my shirt hanging on my peg.

"But the thought of prolonging my career at United was too strong to ignore.

"Sir Alex Ferguson and I have had our moments but I still have the utmost respect for him. He is a football legend and, like everyone at the club, I want to play my part in making sure he ends his managerial career in a blaze of glory."

Yorke believes his career has been wrongly influenced by his playboy image and the media attention he received during his relationship with Page 3 model Jordan, real name Katie Price.

But he argues he has never allowed his off-the-pitch lifestyle to affect his fitness levels or his performances on the field.

Yorke said: "There is always a lot written about my life away from football but if people knew the kind of lifestyle I really lead, they would be astonished.

"A while ago, when I was dating Kate, we attracted a lot of attention from the paparazzi and now it seems whenever I go out on a date there is someone taking a picture of me. But most of my week is spent at home. The vast majority of my time is devoted to preparing myself for football.

"I do extra training sessions, including private work with Andy Clarke, who has worked with several Premiership clubs.

"I eat and drink healthily and I'm in top physical shape. I believe the manager knows that.

"In recent fitness tests at the training ground we did something called the ‘beep' test. Most players register a mark in the early 20s while Olympic athletes manage the mid-20s.

"My reading went completely off the scale. I had reached 27 when the tape ran out and I was still going strong."

Yorke's immediate task is to convince Fergie that he deserves a first team recall — despite reports that the United boss will banish him to train with the reserves.

He added: "I don't believe he will freeze me out.

"As a football manager he knows he has to put out his best available team and I intend to convince him I can still be part of his plans.

"I can offer United a different attacking option and be the perfect foil for Ruud van Nistelrooy.

"It is now up to me to prove I deserve that chance — both to Sir Alex and whoever takes over from him in the summer.

"There will be a new manager in charge next season and hopefully we will all start on level terms. I am now 30 but my body is younger than that because I have kept myself in good condition and have never had any major injuries.

"It has been suggested that I turned down Boro because I want to run down my United contract and walk away on a Bosman free transfer at the end of next season.

"That is completely wide of the mark. I am a United player and when you have played for the biggest and best club in the world, nothing else can live up to that.

"I want to stay at Old Trafford and earn myself a new contract."


Trinidad and Tobago News

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