Monday 05 Feb
Updated Monday 05 Feb 14:00
Academy

Talented goalkeeper Matrevics aiming to stand tall for the Academy

Rihards Matrevics

Rihards Matrevics is a difficult person to miss.

Although he is just 18-years-old, the goalkeeper towers over, well, just about everyone else at West Ham United.

He has been with the Hammers since 2015, but Matrevics’ height is still cause for team bonding.

“I’m 6’7” which, I think, makes me the tallest person at West Ham!” he laughs. “To be honest, I thought the lads would be used to it by now but they still give me banter about it every now and then.”

The Latvian is softly spoken, despite his imposing frame, but there is excitement in his voice when asked about his debut for the Hammers’ U23s earlier this campaign.

Matrevics was given the nod to play against Leicester City in Premier League 2 Division 1 in September – an experience the shot-stopper will never forget.

“To get the nod in that game was incredible. What made it especially great was that the match was played at the King Power Stadium – the ground where Leicester had arguably the best-ever Premier League season.

“To be able to stand there and play in a place with so much history – I’ll never forget it. Of course, the result, losing 3-1, was disappointing but it was an amazing experience. I want more of those memories.”

I look up to Buffon, mainly because of the way he bravely attacks crosses. But he also has a sense of calm about him that I would love to bring into my game. Maybe it’s his experience, but he’s been one of the best for so long

Rihards Matrevics

Standing in Matrevics’ path to regular U23 football is England U20 goalkeeper Nathan Trott, who has made the place in Terry Westley’s team his own in recent months.

Matrevics knows he has a fight on his hands to prise the starting spot from Trott, but recognises that he and his colleague can improve through the competition between the two of them.

“Nath is a really good guy and a very talented goalkeeper. He’s great to train with as well. The standard is always high in our sessions and we help each other focus.

“Obviously, we know we’re both fighting to play for the U23s and to progress through the Academy, but it’s a healthy competition and we make each other better because of it.”

An international player himself for Latvia U19s, Matrevics has featured between the sticks since the age of ten, and names the legendary Italian Gianluigi Buffon – who was a part of the Juventus side that played in the official opening of London Stadium in 2016 – as his all-time hero.

“I look up to Buffon, mainly because of the way he bravely attacks crosses. But he also has a sense of calm about him that I would love to bring into my game. Maybe it’s his experience, but he’s been one of the best for so long.”

Emulating Buffon is some way off, though, and Matrevics’ more immediate aim is to help the Hammers climb off the bottom of the U18 Premier League South table.

“I want to help get the U18s higher up the table and break the spell of bad results. I’m hopeful some good performances might get me another chance in the U23s as well.

“The Club has helped me improve a lot over the last three years. This season has been a test for our character but I’m hopeful we can finish the year strong.”

Should he do that, Matrevics may soon be gaining the attention his giant frame deserves.