FORMER Manchester United superstar Dwight Yorke has put representing Trinidad and Tobago ahead of a lucrative offer to join the Newcastle Jets.
The Jets had offered Yorke a six-month contract to leave English Premier League club Sunderland and become the club's marquee player after Edmundo Zura returned to Ecuador this month.
But a clash between the Jets' Asian Champions League campaign and the next stage of 2010 World Cup qualifying put an end to the deal.
"The money was not a problem; it was purely a clash of calendars," said Jets high-performance manager Ian Crook, who carried out the negotiations with Yorke.
"Trinidad have progressed to the final stage of the qualifying for the World Cup.
"The actual dates did not match, but there were three games where travel was a real issue.
"It was a situation where he would be away to Honduras on the Saturday with Trinidad, play, come back to Australia, and then we were away to Japan on the Wednesday for the Asian Champions League.
"Then a case where he is in Trinidad playing against the USA and four days later with us in China.
"He considered doing it, but in the end he decided the sheer amount of travelling would have killed him.
"If Trinidad had been knocked out, he would have been OK.
"I spoke to him this morning and he was pretty straight, to be fair. He told me he could come and do it for the money but did not think he would be doing the club or himself justice."
Yorke, 37, led Sydney FC to the inaugural A-League title and would have been a welcome addition to a Jets squad in need of experience and goals.
Though disappointed at missing out on Yorke, coach Gary van Egmond said it was not too great a setback.
"He was obviously our No.1 pick and would have been very good for the squad, but we have other people on the boil," the coach said. "It is now a process of elimination."
In the past, Jets owner Con Constantine had baulked at signing a top-end marquee player, but his pursuit of Yorke showed how serious he was about the Asian Champions League, which starts in March and offers $20 million in prizemoney.
"It shows that Con is willing to spend the dollars for the right person," van Egmond said.
"He is also prepared to put more money in on top of that bringing in players just for the Asian Champions League.
"It is very encouraging.
"You don't know when you are going to get the chance to compete in the ACL again, and you need to make the most of it."