NEW signing Gary Martin is looking forward to the challenge of adapting to National League football and getting York City “back where they belong”.

The Darlington-born forward has arrived at Bootham Crescent from Belgian first division side Lokeren until January, when he will depart for Norway’s Lillestrøm.

Having come through the youth set-up at Middlesbrough, the 27-year-old has enjoyed a European tour of a career, including Hungarian Újpest, Icelandic KR Reykjavík and Lillestrøm.

After struggling for game time at the start of this season, Martin made the decision to return to England: “I wanted to stay as long as I could there [in Belgium], but it wasn’t to be. You always think when you’re a footballer you’ll sit there as long as you can, but you need to play.

“I was trying to get out of my contract in Belgium and Martin [Gray] rang me about a month ago.

“It’s a huge club, York City, they should not be where they are. We need to get back where they belong.

"Hopefully it’s the best of both worlds - I can help them, and they can help me with my fitness."

Already familiar with Gray and his demands, Martin said: “I had him when I was 15 at Darlington. Every time I came home from abroad, I was always training with Darlington when he was there.

“My fitness is very good. We did the fitness test in Belgium and I was always at the top, even though I hadn’t played since May!”

Unfortunately, even if he impresses at City, there is no chance of his stay being extended.

Martin said: “The deal was signed before I came to York. I can play, I think, nine games for York from now to the beginning of January.

“Hopefully we can win all nine. That’s the aim. I’m a winner, I want to win, Martin’s a winner.

“It’s two months of hard work for me and hopefully I can help out and push them back up the league.”

With regards to the level of the football he will be playing in, Martin said: “It’s not comparable. The standard in the Belgium league is very high.

“I played in the Champions League when I was in Iceland against Celtic.

“This is going to be very difficult for me, I’m not going to lie. It’s going to be a completely different style of football for me, but it’s a challenge I need to take to improve as a player.

“It’s a learning curve. I’m not coming here just to have a little jolly, I’m here to work hard and win games.

“It’s not going to be easy, there are some decent players who have come down the leagues with a lot of experience, but it’s just football. The goals are the same size in every league in the world, so if I get a chance, hopefully I’ll put the ball in the goal.”

When asked about the story behind his career trajectory, Martin laughed: “We might not have long enough!

“I went to Hungary, came back, and Hartlepool said they wanted to sign me. I went back in July and they didn’t want to sign me.

“There was a contract on the table from Iceland for ten games so I thought ‘I’ll go there and I’ll come back to England’.

“I went there for ten games and ended up spending seven years there!

“I had a manager who was very fond of me. He took me to Norway, did well there, then he got the Belgium job. It was a great opportunity for me, and I couldn’t say no.”

However, Martin seems happy to be home: “I’m Darlington-born, so I’ve followed them all the way through.

“It’s nice to walk in every day and be in an English dressing room for the first time in seven years and understand what everyone’s saying.

"I’m just happy to be here and happy to be home.

“I’m looking forward to playing in front of English crowds and getting a bit of gip and a bit of banter from the fans.”