Yorke was one of Keane’s first recruits in August 2006 when he agreed to swap the delights of Sydney’s Bondi Beach for windswept Wearside.
Trinidad & Tobago star Yorke, 36, sees his contract expire this summer, but Keane admits he may try to persuade him to stay on — with the sweetener of a backroom position.
“When I first got the job we had to try to make a statement. It was important I got someone in like Yorkie who had been there and done it — and he has done. Nobody else in my dressing room has been there and done it, really. Obviously he’s pushing on a bit, but when he came in last season he did so with a smile on his face.
“It was great for me to get him to come back from Australia where I knew he was very happy. You can just picture Yorkie over there and I thought, ‘Jesus, would he ever come back here?’
“But he did because Yorkie loves his football. Maybe his lifestyle is something that has been thrown at him over the years, but he loves his football.
“He’s doing his coaching qualifications and I think he would be a good coach. Sunderland was a big attraction for him, and that’s why we’re delighted to have him here. He does things his way — he’s laid-back — but Alex Ferguson couldn’t change him, so I don’t think I could!
“But you have to get your head round that and think about what he brings to the party, and Yorkie brings a lot to our dressing room. A lot of decisions have to be made over the next eight or nine weeks, but I wouldn’t rule out Yorkie being here next season, certainly not.
“It’s not just Yorkie, there are a few contracts up, like Ian Harte and Stephen Wright. They just have to bide their time.”
Yorke hasn’t started since picking up an injury in the 2-0 home win over Birmingham on January 29, but he could be back for today’s game away to former club Aston Villa after being an influential substitute in the 1-0 defeat by Chelsea at the Stadium of Light a week ago.
“I’ve known him a long time and I have great respect for him, and when I looked in his eyes before he went on against Chelsea, I knew he was going on with a purpose — and he did. It was the same with Rade Prica and (Ian) Hartey when they went on.
“I had to leave three or four out last week because I felt the other 16 were ready more than them, and Yorkie came on and showed what he is all about. He played two great balls and now he’s coming into the reckoning.
“If he plays, hopefully he will get a good reception from the Villa fans. He left there under a cloud, but they got him for next to nothing, so to then get £12.6m for him wasn’t bad.”
Keane believes Republic of Ireland international Reid, a £4m signing from Charlton in January, will have a major say in Sunderland’s relegation escape bid.
He said: “Since he’s come to the club, anything good that has come through our team has come through Reidy.
“We saw his quality on the training pitch last week and we’re seeing it in games because he’s getting fitter, stronger and sharper. Reidy will have a big part to play. At this level, sometimes it’s down to a set-piece. We lost a game last weekend and all it took was one quality ball in.
“Hopefully, the likes of Reidy, Carlos Edwards or Roy O’Donovan, who have come back into the team, can provide that.”