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Dylan Tait determined to impress Shaun Maloney as Hibs midfielder declares: ‘Raith Rovers made me a better person’

Hibs-bound: Tait
Hibs-bound: Tait

Dylan Tait held back the tears following an ‘emotional’ final appearance for Raith Rovers.

Tait, 20, entered the fray as a substitute in Sunday’s 0-0 derby draw against Dunfermline, bringing the curtain down on a fabulous apprenticeship at Stark’s Park.

Since his debut as a fresh-faced 17-year-old in May 2019, the tireless midfielder has made 81 appearances, scored eight goals and boasts a League 1 winners’ medal.

Vast experience for one so young.

And Tait’s next challenge began in earnest on Monday morning when he reported for training with parent club Hibernian.

He is desperate to impress boss Shaun Maloney and earn a regular first-team berth during the second half of the season.

Before that, however, he reflected on his formative years in Fife.

Tait in action in pre-season against Hibs

“I’ve been here for three years — I came through as a young boy so to play in my last game was emotional,” said Tait, a Fife Elite Football Academy graduate.

“For the fans who clapped me off at the end, I appreciate that. It means a lot to me.”

Influences

Tait acknowledged the nurturing influence of a swathe of Rovers stars, past and present.

Kyle Benedictus, Iain Davidson, Christophe Berra and John Baird — “I love Bairdie” — all get a mention. One suspects that is the tip of the iceberg.

However, the most fulsome praise was reserved for manager John McGlynn and the Rovers coaching staff.

“They [coaching staff] have done so much for me,” continued Tait, who will be due another winners’ medal if Rovers go onto claim the Championship title.

Benedictus, left, aided the development of Tait, No.18

“They have matured me on the pitch and off it.

“In terms of football, tactically we go into every game knowing every detail. Nothing is a surprise.

“They have made me a better person, too; a nicer person.

“If there is anything you need, they are there for you. Whether it’s an issue with football, family or friends — they are there. The gaffer is just a good person.”

Reflecting on his Rovers highlights, Tait continued: “My favourite moment was winning the league, having a medal at such a young age. Getting to the final of the Challenge Cup was special and I wish that could have been played.

“My debut; my first goal against East Fife — they’ll all stay with me.”

A happy Hibee

All of those formative experiences will stand Tait in good stead as he finally embarks on his Easter Road adventure.

He joined the capital club in the summer but was immediately loaned back to Rovers and, for the last month, has been splitting his week training between the two clubs.

Tait will seek to impress Maloney

Now, however, Tait’s laser focus is on winning over Maloney, who replaced the man who signed him, Jack Ross, in December.

“I spoke to the manager [Maloney] two weeks ago and the message was, after the [Fife derby] game, go in there and impress him,” added Tait.

“I was signed by Jack [Ross]. I have a lot of thanks to give him for bringing me to the club — but that’s football. People move on. I’ve got a new manager now who I need to impress.

“Hopefully, I can use the two weeks to do that. Hibs had two good results recently so it will be hard to get into the team, but hopefully I can shine in training and the manager takes a liking to me.

“If I get that chance it’s down to me to take it, kick on and stay in the team.”

3 Raith Rovers talking points: The startling ‘642 minute’ stat fuelling John McGlynn striker search

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