Kieffer Moore big interview: 'Serious head injury made me think about everything'
Kieffer Moore spent eight minutes unconscious on a football pitch but it is focus, not fear, that he took from an incident that not just threatened the future of his career - but his health.
Moore is famed for his aerial ability and it was in one such dual with Gabriel Zakuani at Gillingham on February 9 last year that saw him hospitalised.
He was grounded and lost consciousness before being shipped off to hospital.
But on February 10 he returned home and hailed his girlfriend Charlotte Rossall, family and all the staff at Barnsley FC for their role in his recovery.
At first then 18-goal Moore was ruled out for the rest of the season on medical advice. But for a man who rose from non-league side Truro to professional football, setbacks and knocks have been part of making him the man he is today.
And that sickening head injury gave the forward time to think.
His upbringing on the coast in Cornwall gave the forward a laid back attitude but he says that period when he was recovering gave him time to assess not only what he wanted from his career, but life too.
He said: “It kind of opened up everything really. I had a think about my career, my life, my personal life, it kind of made me evaluate the whole situation and what I really want from my career and what I wanted to do with it. It made me think about everything.
“In a way it kind of led me more towards decisions I wanted to do instead of some things in the past I might have been apprehensive.”
As a young footballer he knew he’d make it to the Championship.
And as shown by his miraculous return to action in April just two months after that horror injury Moore has steel and determination.
At 6ft 5ins Moore is still duelling in the air – that Gillingham day will never change his approach once he crosses the white line.
It has also given him perspective. A calf knock saw him miss the 3-1 reverse at QPR.
And as he tapped the pesky right lower leg at Wigan’s Euxton base he spoke of his hope that he will be back on the pitch once again.
Though the visit of his old club might come a game too soon for a man who could make his international bow for Wales next week.
He said: “I just want to play at the highest level I physically can. I want to take my body and mind to the highest level it thinks it can reach. Stuff like that. I don’t want to fall short. I believe I have a mindset where if I really want something I can get it.”
Moore has already shown his lack of fear in his his opening three games for Wigan.
And he stressed that he will give his all for the badge.
He said: “I think if I had that fear in my head then I would not be the same player and I could not do what I wanted to do as a player. I go into every game when I step over that line it is put everything in or don’t put everything in.
“It is one or the other - go hard, or don’t!”
And that belief and mindset was built on the Southern coast.
Moore says his journey through football made him grow up quickly.
Having featured in Torquay United’s youth set-up it was a season that started with Truro City and ended at Dorchester Town that would see Moore get his big break.
He’d scored 13 goals for Truro in the National League South but with financial problems hindering the club, Moore would make the short move to Town.
He added seven goals to that tally to finish with 20 and fourth in the NLS scoring charts.
A then 20-year-old Moore would be propelled into the second tier of English football after Yeovil Town came knocking.
The forward scored nine times in 56 appearances for the Glovers in their Championship relegation season and subsequent 2014-15 League One campaign.
He would have a brief spell at Norwegian side Viking before returning to England and dropping back to non-league with Forest Green Rovers. Though it would not be long before the Championship came knocking again.
Moore’s 10 goals for FGR and on-loan at home-town club Torquay lead to a January move to Ipswich Town.
He was sent to League One side Rotherham to gain experience but his 13-goal loan spell would see fellow Yorkshire, but Championship, side Barnsley snap the striker up.
They would tumble back into the third tier with Moore hitting 19 and falling in love with the Tykes in a 2018-19 season he classes as his proudest moment in football.
But those goals and that form saw Paul Cook splash out a figure believed to be around the £3m mark to lure him across the Pennines to Wigan.
And Moore always envisaged in his spells in non-league that he would be playing for a side like Wigan as he says his footballing journey has made him tough as he bids to prove himself in the second tier once again.
“I always pictured myself going bigger and better,” he said. "I think you need to have that about you or you will never reach that.
“I’m a very hard worker, I put stupid hours into my profession and I pride myself at trying to excel in everything I do.”
What did he learn from growing up in Torquay and from his time in non-league?
He said: “Those areas are very chilled and relaxed.
“Probably given me a bit more laid back qualities than what I’d want to be but obviously I had an amazing time there. In a football sense I had a really good time there. It taught me in a way that you have to grow up quick.
“Going through that non-league route you need to be tougher and you kind of shine more down there I would say.
“It was being a bit resilient and being a bit thick skinned because you know you will get a negativity at the same point.”
Though he loved his time in non-league on his home turf it is Barnsley that has a special place in his heart.
Even if he does not play on Saturday Moore will be at the DW to share a smile or two with the Tykes staff that aided him through his injury.
And Moore’s thanks is also to girlfriend Charlotte, who along with the Barnsley staff was by his side throughout.
He said: “I cannot thank my girlfriend enough. She did everything really for me.
“She was perfect. The Barnsley staff, I cannot thank them enough. The physios were always around my house in the first stages.
“They really made a massive difference, the whole staff at Barnsley they were amazing for me. The club chaplain too, everyone made a real effort there. My whole family too. It was really nice to get that treatment.”
That injury started the thought process that would see Moore look to leave Oakwell this summer.
Though despite his two month lay-off the ex-Ipswich and Rotherham man classes that 19-goal promotion campaign as one of his best.
And like his own story, Barnsley too had set-backs, that is what made it all the sweeter for a striker that returned to action and scored on the final day of the campaign in a 2-1 defeat at Bristol Rovers.
It was to be Moore’s last league appearance for the Tykes and he believes he outgrew Oakwell.
The 27-year-old opting instead for a new challenge at former Premier League and FA Cup winners Wigan Athletic.
“I look back at that (season) as probably my proudest moment in my football career,” he said.
“I loved my time at Barnsley. I can’t speak highly enough of the club. But I think, obviously you grow quite quick and I outgrew my place there.
“I wanted a new challenge and I saw this as a perfect opportunity for me to get that.”