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  -   NEWS
Monday, March 12, 2001
From Bristol leagues to World Cup, at 33
By Patricia Gledstone

James Hoyte is 33 and turns out on Saturdays in the Bristol Suburban Premier Division for Tytherington Rocks Reserves. But, amazingly, he is is gearing up for his first taste of World Cup action.

Hoyte, who left his native Fiji as a teenager, has received the call-up from manager Billy Singh.

'I couldn't believe it,' said Hoyte. 'I am so flattered Billy remembered me.' In fact, the same Singh capped him as a 17-year-old. 'I didn't even know he was still managing the side so you can imagine how shocked I was,' added the player.

Hoyte will face Australia, Tonga, American Samoa and Samoa in his World Cup qualifying group. 'I have not been back to Fiji for 12 years and am desperate to return and show people what I can do,' he added.

'I have been given a a golden opportunity, especially at my age. I must admit I am a bit nervous, I have dreamed of this moment for years.'

After a handful of games with Fiji as a 16-year-old, Hoyte played for semi-professional clubs in New Zealand before moving to England for a trial with West Ham. He was rejected by the Hammers and thought his football career was over.

He settled in Bristol with his wife and daughter and joined the local side, where he averaged a goal a game last season. Now divorced, Hoyte is the star player for his club, helping them to second place in the league. He flies out next month to begin training with his team-mates whose qualifiers begin in June.

Hoyte aims to stay in Fiji for the duration of his international career, to the loss of his Tytherington manager Andy Mathias.

'He's our best player by far and we'll struggle without him,' said Mathias. 'But we all wish him all the luck in the world.' Hoyte plans to return when his international days are over and admitted he will miss Bristol life.

'I loved playing for my local side,' he said. 'The lads were great. They are all very proud that I have been called up but I think they are a bit disappointed not to play alongside me anymore.'

 

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