Qualifying for the Euros despite everything against them. Flag controversies. Hard work. Being surrounded by world-class players. 27-year-old Striker, Kieffer Moore, is relatively a newbie when it comes to the Welsh National team, having only been called up in May of this year.
However, in the last week he’s experienced almost every emotion under the sun, but how does it feel to be part of it all? Jasmine Baba finds out.
Is this real life?
It still hasn’t quite hit home the feat of going from League One six months ago to helping his team qualify for only their third major tournament in their history. Talking about his experience with Wales and the qualifiers, Moore said:
“To play the part I did, scoring two goals and assisting is massive for me. When I was called up into the team in May and knowing how unlikely we were to qualify after the loss against Hungary in June, I wasn’t really thinking about it.
I was grateful that I had been called up and I had hoped to play a part in the upcoming qualifiers, but I wouldn’t have dreamed of playing the part to the extent I actually did.”
It’s no surprise his call up has coincidentally collided with Wales’ recent form; his six foot six stature has provided an aerial threat within the team. Pin-point crosses from the likes of Aaron Ramsey and Harry Wilson proved to be crucial against Azerbaijan in Baku.Now mention Moore to the average football fan and the chances are, they won’t know who he plays for. Mention the name to a Welsh fan now, however, and you’ll get the opposite reaction.
The centre-forward, who has come from the depths of the football league, has been one of the stars to overturn the national team’s fortunes in qualifying after Ryan Giggs was impressed with his goalscoring record at Barnsley and called him up to the team in May of this year.
So what is it like to be playing under the tutorage of one the most decorated league footballers the English top-flight has ever seen?
“You only need to hear his name to know what he’s achieved in football. His experience is invaluable. He’s a fantastic coach and has guided us all the way here.”
Summer plans for 2020
After a 2-0 win against Hungary on Tuesday, Wales have booked a first class ticket to Euro 2020, but their minds haven’t yet wondered to the upcoming summer just yet.
“We haven’t really talked about what we want to get out of the Euros yet. The last time we were in the Euros in 2016, we got to the semi-finals, so, I’m guessing we would all love to be in that circumstance again and maybe even go one step further, but we know it’s a difficult task and we’ll all be very prepared for it.” Moore goes onto say.
Wales. Golf. Madrid. Drama?
The Welsh team’s celebrations on Tuesday night were one of the main talking points as they defied the odds to qualify for next year’s Euros. For those who haven’t seen the so-called antics, it involved an out-of-favour Real Madrid player, Gareth Bale, unveiling a Welsh flag that had “Wales. Golf. Madrid. In that order,” emboldened across it. Que horror from some sets of the Spanish club’s fans.
A part of those celebrations was Wigan target-man, Moore, who says some people took it out of context.
“Celebrating with Bale and the flag; these things can be misconstrued. At the end of the day, we’ve just qualified for a major tournament,” he said.
“I’m sure some people are looking at it from a cynical point of view but, in my opinion, it was excitement of what we just achieved as a team and a nation. It’s no small matter. The emotions set out on the day were ones I’ve never felt before.”
Hard work pays off
As a slightly more senior player at the age of 27, Kieffer Moore is the embodiment of persistence and dedication.
Even during his solid goal-scoring record last season for Barnsley (19 goals in 35 appearances in all competitions) which saw him named in the PFA Team of the Year for League One, it didn’t come without its bumps in the road as he suffered a serious head injury in February.
He explains that even though he was a late bloomer to football, it’s never stopped him from constantly striving to be the best version of himself.
“This achievement is a lead up from all my hard work.” He said.
“I’ve never rested from just being a professional footballer, I’ve always wanted to push the boundaries, test myself and strive to be better.
Hopefully, what I’ve achieved recently has been a part of that hard work and what it can help you achieve. I know I’ve come into the game late but I’m definitely going to stick around for a long, long time.
For me, this is only the start.”
Follow Jasmine on Twitter @_BabsJ