EX-SAINT Kevin Gibbens has ended his eight-year love affair with Southern League outfit Sholing .

The 32-year-old midfielder-turned-striker, who played a dozen games for Southampton , has stepped down a league to join Ashley Vickers’ Blackfield & Langley in the Sydenhams Premier Division.

Having emerged as the pick of a very strong Saints youth crop, Gibbens made his first-team bow in a 4-2 win at West Ham at the age of 18.

But he suffered amid the club’s many managerial changes and was freed from his Saints contract in March 2002 before dropping into non-League with Basingstoke Town and Eastleigh .

He signed a contract for Sholing (then VT FC) when they joined the Wessex League in August 2004, teaming up with boyhood friend, goalkeeper Scott O’Rourke, at Portsmouth Road.

He became the Boatmen’s midfield linchpin as they won promotion to the Southern League and was later pushed up front as a targetman following Paul Sales’s retirement due to injury.

Full story inj today's Daily Echo