NATHAN Tella says scoring his first Saints goal helped fulfil a childhood dream.

The 21-year-old enjoyed a breakthrough season at Saints, featuring 22 times for the first team in all competitions.

Former Arsenal youngster Tella made his senior Saints debut almost one year ago, coming off the bench in a 3-0 win at Norwich City during Project Restart at the end of the 2019-20 campaign.

He kicked on during 2020-21, making eight starts, including seven in the Premier League.

But it was an impact appearance off the bench which yielded his first goal, netting just two minutes after coming on last month to help Saints to a 3-1 win over Fulham at St Mary's.

"It’s something I’ve dreamed about since I was a kid," Tella told the Daily Echo.

"I’ve seen players scoring in the Premier League and I’m thinking 'why can’t I be one of those?'.

"Now that I’ve been able to put the ball in the back of the net and get off the mark, I hope that this is just the start of a goalscoring run in my career."

After finding the net, Tella turned provider, teeing up another academy graduate in Theo Walcott, a player 11 years his senior.

"As a player and a forward, the goal is not only just to score goals, but it’s to get assists," said Tella.

"I’m so happy I was able to get an assist for Theo.

"He’s helped me so much this season and I’m just delighted."

Walcott spent last season on loan at Saints and has since signed a two-year contract to join the club as a free agent when his deal at Everton expires this month.