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Maidstone United's former Arsenal defender Gavin Hoyte targeting his first league title

By Craig Tucker

There's still something missing from a career that saw Gavin Hoyte make his Premier League debut for Arsenal as an 18-year-old - and that's where Maidstone come in.

Hoyte is desperate to win a league title before he retires and sees an opportunity to do so with the Stones in National South.

The right-back has signed a one-year deal after a frustrating end to his second spell at Dagenham, where he barely featured under Peter Taylor.

Gavin Hoyte wants to end his wait for a league title at Maidstone
Gavin Hoyte wants to end his wait for a league title at Maidstone

His move to the Gallagher sees him reunited with John Still, the man who originally signed him for Dagenham after leaving boyhood club Arsenal in 2012.

The Stones boss is the perfect man to get Hoyte enjoying his football again and hopefully end the 29-year-old's wait for a championship medal.

Hoyte, whose former clubs include Watford, Brighton and Gillingham, said: "I started at a young age at Arsenal, I've been at some very good clubs, I've been called up to international duty, so I can say I'm pretty proud of what I've done so far.

"But one thing I haven't done is won a league, I haven't been promoted, so that's my main objective before I retire and hopefully it can come sooner than later.

"I didn't really play a lot last season so I've come here, I want to play and try and help us get back into the National League.

"I've had some bad spells where I didn't like football, and last year was one of them.

"It was more mentally tough because you've got to keep at it even though you're not going to be involved.

"I want to get back to liking football and enjoying it and playing helps.

Maidstone head of football John Still Picture: Andy Jones
Maidstone head of football John Still Picture: Andy Jones

"I know John, he knows what he wants, he makes sure everyone knows their jobs and he gets the best out of every player.

"When I first went to Dagenham I had to man up.

"I grew up very quickly and realised I needed to work hard and John got me doing that."

Hoyte grew up as an Arsenal fan - he was a regular with his dad in the North Bank at Highbury - and joined the Gunners aged nine.

He progressed to the first-team squad and was handed his Premier League debut by Arsene Wenger at Manchester City in 2008.

City, who had recently signed Brazilian superstar Robinho for £32.5 million, won 3-0 but it was a great experience for the young right-back.

Hoyte said: "Wenger was great. He was quiet but when he did speak he had words of wisdom and everyone would just listen.

"What he would say was spot on.

"He helped me a lot and so did Pat Rice.

Gavin Hoyte in League 1 action for Gillingham against Bristol City Picture: Barry Goodwin
Gavin Hoyte in League 1 action for Gillingham against Bristol City Picture: Barry Goodwin

"I remember Wenger coming up to me in the changing room before the Man City game.

"I was sitting next to Gael Clichy at the time and he said, 'relax, enjoy yourself, you're going to do well'.

"He was saying, 'I remember when I started Clichy in his first game, and he got man-of-the-match, look at that'.

"That helped ease the nerves and Clichy also said 'yes, you're ready to play' so he had faith in me and I can't thank him enough for that.

"I was 18 at the time, playing in a big game against Man City.

"It's hard to remember a lot because it was a long time ago but I remember looking round, thinking 'wow' and shaking hands with all the City players."

Read more: The latest sports news in Kent

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