By Dan Cubbon
U6th footballer Stathis Kalathias, 17, played a substantial part in Hampton’s 2019 ESFA Cup triumph, but his story doesn’t just include school football. Having signed for Tottenham when he joined the school, Stathis has already enjoyed a long career, playing with Queens Park Rangers for nearly 7 years. Stathis contributed to Hampton’s win in the ESFA Cup final by scoring a penalty in the shootout, giving Hampton the match point which they took straight away.
Stathis joined in the First Year, when he received a trial for Tottenham and was offered the chance to play for their academy. He took up the place offered and started playing academy football whilst also juggling sport at Hampton as well as education. “I found it hard at first,” he remembers.
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“It was hard to concentrate in lessons and reach homework deadlines, but I eventually made it work by doing the little things – staying in the library after school and doing homework the day it is set. It’s easy once you get used to it.”
Stathis has been in the top teams throughout his time at Hampton and has endured the highs and lows each season in the yellow shirt. “Each season there have been ups and down, especially in the third year. Having to have an operation on my knee and miss the season was horrible. However, now I feel that it is the best thing that has ever happened to me. It has made be a better player and it made winning the ESFA Cup so much better. Coming back to football felt brilliant”.
The ESFA Cup is the biggest school tournament in England. From U12 to U18, any school in England can enter, but only one school can be victorious in each competition. The U18 tournament is the biggest and in 2019, the trophy came home to Hampton School. Stathis came on from the bench in the final and scored an important penalty in the 3-0 penalty shootout win. “I was frustrated not to start. I wanted to do whatever I could for the team. However, if I came on I knew I would take a penalty if the match went all the way – which, luckily for us, it did. I wasn’t really thinking when I took the penalty, I just knew that if we lost, we lost together. To see my penalty go in was incredible. I knew at that moment that I’d done all I could for the team”.
Stathis’ penalty was followed by a save, winning Hampton the ESFA Cup. However, the game hadn’t been in Hampton’s favour for long. The team went 1-0 down just before half time and the equaliser only came 5 minutes before the end of normal time.
The comeback made it even better for the 800 in attendance, and for the Hampton team. “I was relieved,” Stathis recalls. “To not be as involved as others was hard to take, but to win was an amazing feeling for us and everyone who came to support us”.
Stathis’ success at the school doesn’t end at the ESFA Cup, however. Winning the London ISFA Cup a year before was another highlight. “Winning that and being MOTM was amazing,” he says. “I had helped the team to victory and had done my part for the team. That feeling was incredible. However, the ESFA Cup win helped me in my career. I’ve had higher expectations which has helped me play better”.
Stathis’ time with the Hampton 1st XI has been full of success, and his academy story isn’t much different. “I signed for Tottenham when I was 11. However, things didn’t work out and I was devastated. Whilst this was bad for my career, Tottenham were really helpful and introduced me to QPR. Things have gone much better now and I love playing for QPR U18’s.
Kalathias in action for QPR
“I’ve also trialled at AFC Wimbledon though it didn’t work out. However, that doesn’t matter now because I’m playing well at QPR and there are different paths that I can choose. I want to do what is best for me and plan my career properly. However, I will always aim to go higher and higher. QPR are great but I will always aim to be the best”.
Stathis is still playing at Queen’s Park Rangers and has now finished playing football for Hampton School. He has been offered a Football scholarship to Swarthmore College, Pennsylvania.