FORMER scholar Kaya Tshaka insisted “I take everything” from 10 years of Saints academy experience, topping it off with “something special” in his final season.

The 18-year-old midfielder was part of the young Saints squad that secured the Under-18 Premier League South title last campaign, taking a lead over Manchester City in the National final.

Although the tough tackler has now departed at the end of his scholarship this summer, Bitterne-lad Tshaka will still be seen locally on the professional football circuit.

He has signed for National League outfit Eastleigh, appearing as a late substitute versus his old teammates in a 2-2 pre-season draw between Saints B and the Spitfires’ first-team.

“I was waiting for the ball to go out, it felt like 10 minutes I was waiting to come on! It was good to see all my old teammates,” Tshaka told the Daily Echo.

“We did something special last season when we won the league and it’s good to see everyone progressing, seeing the boys on the pitch.

“I learnt about the winning mentality, how it is to go again, win games and go again, just to be a winner, a winning culture and winning at all costs.

"I take everything, they made the player but also the person. It’s all about hard work, greeting people and the basics on and off the pitch, for that I thank them for everything."

He continued: “For me, it was unbelievable, playing against Man City in the final but just to win the league itself was something I’ll never forget.”

Having been in the Saints academy from the age of eight, supported from home by his family while a lot of his teammates had to move into digs, the winners' medal is something Tshaka says his family look at 'every day'.

“It was a good period of my life but now I’m happy at Eastleigh, getting senior exposure and hopefully progressing onto bigger and better things,” Tshaka added.

Daily Echo: Kaya Tshaka's Eastleigh defeated Brighton under-23s at the weekend (Pic: Tom Mulholland)Kaya Tshaka's Eastleigh defeated Brighton under-23s at the weekend (Pic: Tom Mulholland)

The youngster arrived at the Silverlake Stadium with the intention of going into the successful under-19 Elite Development Squad programme, run by Jason Bristow and Luke Hardy.

However, he has already featured twice in pre-season matches for Lee Bradbury’s senior side and hopes to keep making the right impressions.

“At the end of the season I was thinking about my future, my parents were just like 'what’s best for me?' Eastleigh came about and had a pathway for me,” he revealed.

“To initially join the EDS squad and hopefully get around the first-team. The main appeal for me was the first-team experience, training with them every day.

“I’ve got into the first-team setup and I’ve been with them ever since, enjoying every minute. The aim is to play as many games as possible, whether that’s EDS, out on loan or at Eastleigh.

“Look, I’m not here to make up numbers, I’m here to make an impact. I want to try and get into the first-team squad, take someone’s shirt and show the gaffer what I can do.”

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