1. ITV Report

The ex-West Ham youngster eyeing FA Cup upset who wants to be a psychologist when he's retired

Nathan Mavila is set to face Oldham on Monday. Credit: Hampton and Richmond

Monday night's FA Cup clash against Oldham Athletic could be another important milestone in the life of Nathan Mavila.

The former West Ham youngster will line up for non-league side Hampton & Richmond in the first round clash at Beveree Stadium looking to cause an upset against the League Two outfit.

Mavila has enjoyed and endured what football has to offer; from a surprise call-up for an Europa League tie for his boyhood club to making headlines for the wrong reasons after admitting his guilt when he committed fraud by false representation.

Mavila worked under Slaven Bilic. Credit: PA

Alongside playing for the National League South side, defender Mavila is studying Sport and Exercise at the University of East London as he plans to work in sports psychology when his career ends.

Having become a professional at West Ham his release was a difficult turning point in his career, forcing him to seek help.

"When I was struggling to find a club when I left West Ham, I was quite depressed and alone," Mavila told ITV News. "As much as people say they know what I was going through, I didn’t think anyone did and the only ones who I did allow my mind to accept their advice was ex-pros or professionals."

The biggest help for Mavila came from ex-West Ham striker Zavon Hines, current Hammers player Moses Makasi and his agent, Romel Atkins, as well as the support of his parents.

"There was a time I wanted to pack it in and he [Atkins] really helped me carry on."

Mavila was on the bench for a Europa League defeat in Romania. Credit: PA

While at West Ham, Mavila was promoted to the first team squad for a Europa League clash against Astra Giurgiu.

Aged just 19 the defender travelled with the likes of Manuel Lanzini and Kevin Nolan for the game in Romania, which they lost 2-1.

“It was probably the best experience of my life. It showed what you need to aspire to as a young pro. It was unexpected; a few of us were named on the bench but I did not expect to be.

"We finished training with the Under-23s and our manager Terry Westley told us that a few players were travelling and we need to check the list. I thought I wasn’t on it, so went to get showered and only went to check the list out of courtesy.

"Then I saw my name and we then had to fly out the next day. It was pretty cool. You got to see how the players at the top do it and it was amazing."

Zavon Hines helped Mavila through a difficult time. Credit: PA

Mavila did not get off the bench and never got the chance to represent the first team, eventually being released in 2016 after loan spells at Aldershot and Wealdstone.

His exit from West Ham left Mavila searching for a new club for the first time, a setback only exacerbated by the actions of his agent.

“That summer was the hardest of my life. It was mentally very hard as I had a few things going on with agents in the background, with them telling me one thing and not delivering and it wasted a lot of my time."

After time training with Charlton, their coach Jason Euell recommended Mavila to National League side Maidstone. After a dozen appearances for the club he made moves to Cambridge City and back to Wealdstone before the season had ended.

“The summer after I got released was even harder as there was nothing on the table. I was training with Jamie Lawrence; it was the hardest I’ve trained, I didn’t go on holiday."

Eventually he signed for Wingate and Finchley, where was was spotted by Leyton Orient manager Justin Edinburgh who lured Mavila to Brisbane Road, as the defender felt he was moving in the right direction once again.

"I signed for Wingate & Finchley, played 40 odd games and then signed for Leyton Orient. It was amazing feeling to know my hard work had paid off but I didn’t actually get to play any games for them."

Mavila joined Hampton and Richmond this summer. Credit: Hampton and Richmond

He has also made the news for the wrong reasons, after admitting fraud. He was sentenced to carry out 40 hours of unpaid work and handed a fine.

The conviction might have put clubs off signing him; his crime is the first thing that pops up on Google when searching his name.

“I was going through tough times financially, I wasn’t in full-time employment, I was on part-time money. I had a car that I was paying for and I needed insurance and it was hard.

"My premium had run out, the new premium was higher and I was shocked as I had not had an accident or anything. I tweaked a few things on my insurance, I got stopped and what happened happened.It was a mistake, I regret it.

"Certain clubs might look at it and think whatnot but it was out of character and it was just a mistake."

Mavila in action this season. Credit: Hampton and Richmond

Mavila eventually sold the car to "keep me sane" and believes his experiences, good and bad, can be used in a positive way to educate other footballers facing similar predicaments.

"I would want to be that supporting hand to young players who are going through that or any other situation in and around football I can tell them that I’ve been there. So after playing I would love to go into sports psychology and go on to mentor young players."

After getting over the disappointment of not featuring at Leyton Orient, Mavila is enjoying life at Hampton and Richmond.

“It’s a great club, it’s a family club, the fans are really into the club, they do quite a lot for the club, turning up to give great support home and away. They have a new manager and new players.

"As players we’ve gelled quite quickly, the manager is very good and passionate, he just loves football and wants the best for us as a team."

Mavila hopes a cup upset on Monday night can accelerate his own development as he seizes his second chance.

“It’s a magnificent opportunity. The team hasn’t been doing too great in the last couple of games but in the FA Cup we’ve been doing really well. The most important thing is the team.

"We all have our agenda, everyone wants to go as high as they can, I am just 23, I still want to push on and still as well as I can but I can’t do that if we don’t perform as a team.

“We’re hoping to cause an upset, we’re confident in our ability. We have players who have been in the league and some who haven’t and we’re working well as a collective and we’re confident, we have nothing to lose."