Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

My Pain at Leaving the Cats ( Hoyte

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

My Pain at Leaving the Cats ( Hoyte

Article excerpt

Byline: By Stuart Rayner

Justin Hoyte admitted he will be sorry to say goodbye to Sunderland after pulling on a Black Cats shirt for the final time tomorrow.

The Wearsiders ended a disappointing home season on a high on Thursday with a 2-1 win over Fulham. Hoyte was the last man down the tunnel after what was meant to be a thank you to the fans turned into an impromptu lap of honour ( or "lap of thanks" as the club is calling it.

The defender will return to Arsenal after his season-long loan ends with tomorrow's game at Villa Park, and while the boyhood Gunners fan will no doubt be pleased to return "home", Sunderland and their passionate supporters have made a real impression on him.

"It was very emotional," he said. "When we won, it was like we'd won the league or something. Hopefully one day I'll come back to play here again. I'll still look up the results to see how they're doing and when I get a day or two off, I'll come back and see them."

While the league table and results have not made pleasant reading for fans or players, the 21-year-old views his time on Wearside as a positive experience.

"I'll look back on this season as being very good for me," he said. "This loan spell has improved me a lot in all aspects, on and off the field.

"I've got to take the positives and negatives through to next season and work just as hard. It's not been fun (losing so many games) but you do learn from it."

Hoyte spoke for the whole squad when he expressed his thanks to the long-suffering supporters, who have consistently turned up in huge numbers.

"The fans have been fantastic from the start right to the end," Hoyte said. "They've really given me a lot of confidence.

"It's just great to see how much they've enjoyed me playing for Sunderland and I've really enjoyed their company and support.

"I'd heard lots about the fans but until you play for the club you don't actually realise how much they love Sunderland. …

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