MARCUS GAYLE has done his bit to help Joe Aribo rise from the Conference to the Championship. The midfielder has more than held up his end of the bargain too as he considers whether to move to the Premiership or the Premier League.

Just days before he lost his job as the boss of Staines Town, Gayle made Aribo swear he would do all he could to realise his potential and go on to reach the highest level.

A call to his friend Jason Euell got the Londoner in the door at Charlton. Now, Aribo is preparing to leave The Valley as Rangers and Celtic battle a handful of English clubs for his services this summer.

Aribo has come a long way in a short space of time and Gayle, who spent just a couple of months at Ibrox in 2001, is pleased to see his former midfielder keeping his word and fulfilling his undoubted talent.

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“He had a character and a determination and a will to learn,” Gayle said. “He absorbed information really well and, with that, he produced good performances, and in a team that were struggling as well at that time.

“There was an episode in one of the games that we lost, to a team not far from us, Hemel Hempstead.

“I said to him in the changing room, in front of everyone, that if he was playing at this level in two years’ then something was wrong. Either I wasn’t doing my job or he wasn’t doing his, so I said to him to promise me that he was going to make it as a professional. He said he did, in front of all the players.

“I got the sack a couple of weeks later! I said to him at the time I would make a couple of phone calls.

“One was to Brentford and the other was to Charlton, because I knew Jason Euell, who was my old team-mate. I gave him the details and said just give him a courtesy call.

“I didn’t hear anything for about three months and then they said they wanted to sign him, which was great.

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“He had that learning ability and I thought if he was in an Academy environment, who knows how far he could go. I could see him in a professional environment at 18 getting better and better, and he has done.

“The feedback from Charlton was that he was already ahead of their players because he had played first team, he had 30 games of men’s football which, at 18, is very good.

“That helped him with his development and then he has carried on progressing over the years. It was Karl Robinson that gave him his debut and he has blossomed from there. I didn’t see the goal scoring aspect of it coming, he never scored for me. But his build-up play, his composure, his wanting of the ball, that was clear to see.

“He just needed an opportunity at that young age and thankfully Charlton gave him that chance then. I am sure he has repaid them.”

The fourth season that Aribo has spent with Charlton looks like being his last. It yielded ten goals and 39 appearances, the final of which was the dramatic victory over Sunderland at Wembley that secured the Addicks’ place back in the Championship.

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The 22-year-old has attracted interest from a host of clubs in England and abroad and Rangers are firmly in the race to win his signature.

The decision is a key one for Aribo, but his former mentor reckons there is one option that stands out.

Gayle said: “He can be quiet in the dressing room, he is very humble and he has got a good background in terms of his family.

“He is not a party animal or anything like that, but he likes his fun and jokes in there like anybody else.

“He wants to develop, he has that desire. I said to him he is still at that development stage and he has got an opportunity, should he go to Rangers, to learn from Steven Gerrard and he will push you further in your career, there is no doubt about that.

“You are working with one of the best. If he doesn’t go, he will get great experience at Championship level, which is a very good level and everyone is playing neat, possession football that would suit him.

“He is on the rise and I know there are Premier League clubs that are looking at him as well. He has got a tough decision but I wouldn’t dissuade him from going up north at all. I would encourage him to leave the comfort zone of down south and go and learn in a different culture, a different environment and at a club where your love of football will be replicated by the mad support. I think he will cherish that.”

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A move to Rangers would see Aribo take another step up, but also one into the unknown at Ibrox.

Gayle has no doubt over his ability, or fears over his suitability for a Gers side bidding for title glory next term.

He said: “I think there is a good chance. I had a joke with him and said that when he was playing for me there were only 200 fans there, and now he could be playing in front of 50,000 fans. He is equipped to do that, that wouldn’t faze him one bit.

“He played at Wembley in front of a big crowd, he has got that experience of playing for a good club in London. That wouldn’t faze him at all, he would absolutely love the experience of playing in Glasgow.

“Personally, I would like to see him play for Rangers. That is just my take, but I think he would learn so much from Steven Gerrard and the players that he is looking to bring in. That would really give him a platform to push on again and get even better.”