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Under-18s

Agent mum Roxanne comes up trumps for son Nathan

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AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

Who better to turn to than your own mum after your world has been turned upside down.

That’s exactly what Nathan Moriah-Welsh did as he looked to pick up the pieces after his dream of becoming a professional footballer had been shattered.

Moriah-Welsh, who captains AFC Bournemouth under-18s, was facing an uncertain future having been released as a schoolboy by Chelsea, Brentford and Reading.

But thanks largely to the efforts of his mother and agent Roxanne, the teenager found his way to Vitality Stadium, signing a two-year scholarship in 2018.

Having featured in 2018/19 as Alan Connell’s team reached the quarter-finals of the FA Youth Cup, Moriah-Welsh will be hoping to lead them into the last eight this season.

The 17-year-old midfielder is expected to be handed the armband when the Cherries entertain Millwall in the fifth round at Vitality Stadium tomorrow (7pm kick-off).

Should they progress, lying in wait would be either Chelsea or Wolves, whose last-16 showdown is scheduled for a week on Monday.

Moriah-Welsh was born in Chelsea and was rejected by his local club following a two-year stay before he suffered a similar fate Brentford and Reading.

He told afcb.co.uk: “The first one was probably the hardest because Chelsea were the biggest club at the time.

“A couple of weeks before I found out, I had a letter inviting me to go on a tour. From that, I thought they would be keeping me on but then I got another letter telling me I was being released. I was ten or 11 at the time. It was tough.

“As the releases went on, it got easier. The Reading one was probably the most anticipated because I knew.

“I had a good year at under-15 in terms of starting games but it went downhill the following season and I just knew I wouldn’t be getting a scholarship.

“The rejections built a wall of resilience. I’ve always come back from downfalls and that’s one thing I really pride myself on.

“I don’t think there has ever been a doubt about me playing football, it’s just where.

“Fortunately, here, I’ve found somewhere beautiful to play and, hopefully, I can stay here for as long as possible.”

Discussing his mum’s role in his formative years, Moriah-Welsh, whose family home is in West Drayton near Heathrow, said: “At the time, my mum was my agent. She helped a lot with finding clubs.

“We went to West Brom, Yeovil, Bournemouth and Brighton. I chose Bournemouth because it was the only offer on the table.

“Brighton and Yeovil were still weighing up whether they wanted to sign me, even though I got invited to go on a tour with Yeovil. I’ve been happy here ever since and absolutely love it.

“I’ve been through a lot with my mum. Throughout it all, it’s been me, my mum and my grandparents.

“Most of the credit goes to her for being such a strong woman for me in my life and helping me throughout my journey.

“She’s involved in post office management but always found the time for her job and me. My grandparents helped a lot as well. In my younger days, they would pick me up if she was at work. When I was older, I was able to get the bus or train home.

“Everyone put in a shift to make sure I was comfortable and they all did a very good job. I want to repay them – and not just on the money side.

“I want to thank them for all the years they spent travelling and all the money they spent on fuel. It has been a hard journey but, hopefully, it’s starting to pay off.

“I’ve always been kept grounded by my mum and we both know there is a long way to go to get to the top. I just have to keep working hard to get there. There’s no time to stop and admire what you’re doing now.”

Having triumphed over adversity to win a place at the Cherries academy, Moriah-Welsh has recently overcome another major hurdle having suffered a serious injury at the start of the season.

He takes up the story: “Everything was going well and things were looking good for me.

“I trained with the under-21s for the majority of pre-season and went to Spain with them.

“But in a friendly against Reading, I ruptured my lateral cruciate ligament and hamstring.

“At the time, it didn’t seem like a bad injury. I was on crutches and in a brace but I could walk on it, it felt strong and felt as if everything was intact.

“But when I went to see the specialist, he gave me the bad news. When he told me, it was hard to take and I shed a few tears.

“I was out for five-and-a-half months and counted every day. Some days, it felt like it would never end and, other days, I felt I was closer than ever, especially when I started running, kicking and being back involved in team training.

“I was back on the bench for the last round of the FA Youth Cup against Cardiff and have played a couple of league games. The hard work has finally started to pay off.

“A lot of people have helped with my physical and technical development over the past five-and-a-half months and I would like to especially thank Ben Bradley, Sara Sayer, Jess Murray Fisher and Al (Connell).”

Moriah-Welsh will be hoping to become only the third captain in the club’s history to lead them into the quarter-finals of the FA Youth Cup and was keen to thank his team-mates for getting through the third and fourth round as he continued his rehabilitation.

“I was very proud of the boys,” he added. “We had tough games against Barnet and Cardiff and they built up mental toughness in the group.

“To have those experiences are the best thing to happen to us. You learn more from close games and they have brought us together as one.

“We are hoping for a big crowd against Millwall. We reached the quarter-finals last season and want to go further this year. Everyone will give it their all.”

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