LIKEABLE Saints youngster Nathan Tella has credited his family and friends for helping him make a career in football, adding that they: “Motivated me to live my dream.”

The 22-year-old forward has struggled for gametime so far during the 2021-22 season but has already made himself a stalwart in Saints’ matchday squads.

He scored his first Premier League goal against Fulham last year, and added his first notch of this campaign in the EFL Cup tie vs Newport County.

And now the smiley former Arsenal academy man has revealed how his family were major motivators, in an interview with club media.

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He said: “They were massive, my Mum and my Dad and my sister as well.

Daily Echo: Nathan Tella, 22, is a popular figure of the Saints squad (Pic: PA)Nathan Tella, 22, is a popular figure of the Saints squad (Pic: PA)

“They always tried to motivate me when I younger and there was times when I wasn’t in the mood to train or I was tired after school, they were always like ‘it’ll pay off in the long run’ and at the moment it is.

“Credit to them, I’m happy they kept pushing me and motivating me to live my dream.”

He joked: “It’s good for my Dad, he can go back to the people in the church and be like ‘I told you so’.

“But it’s all good and he really motivated me a lot, he’s probably my biggest influence to where I am now. Even the people in the church all helped me as well.”

As well as his family, Tella reveals that he has had the same group of friends since he was a schoolboy and that they keep him “grounded”.

“Since about the age of five, six, we’ve all been in the same friendship group,” he said, “we all went to the same schools, all followed each other.

“They went off to university and then I came here. We all stayed close and I think that probably brought us closer as the further we were apart the more we wanted to stay in contact.

Daily Echo: Nathan Tella started in the EFL Cup contests (Pic: PA)Nathan Tella started in the EFL Cup contests (Pic: PA)

“We all wanted to be footballers and I was lucky enough to get picked up and get the opportunity to play. But they still see me as the same boy running around school, being disruptive and messing about.

“Credit to them, they’ve kept me grounded, they never let me get too big headed even when I started scoring or have a good game, or even if I have a bad game they keep my happy.

“I’m happy I’m still friends with them.”