IN SAFE HANDS
American goalkeeper Brendan Moore on his journey to Rochdale
BRENDAN Moore didn’t know a huge amount about League One four years ago.
The budding goalkeeper was finishing his studies in economics and psychology at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill in America and looking ahead to entering the draft for a place on a Major League Soccer club roster.
But a phone call diverted the American stopper across the pond for a trial which led to a contract with Fleetwood Town, a spell at Torquay United before a move to his current club Rochdale.
Spotland is a fair trek from his home town Atlanta, but Moore is relishing the chance to show he’s got what it takes in England.
“I never really expected it all,” Moore, 26, told The FLP. “I was playing for my university. I was there for fourand-a-half years and always knew I wanted to play after I graduated. I kind of thought I’d be in MLS, though, or a league in America, at least.
“Then as I was coming up to my graduation I had a phone call with an opportunity to come on trial at Oxford United. This was right before the MLS draft in January 2015, which I was looking forward to.
“I decided to take the opportunity to go on trial so I spent most of January here. Then the week leading up to the draft, the trial at Oxford led to a trial at Fleetwood Town and I was offered a contract.
“It’s far from home but I felt the best opportunity was to move over here. It’s difficult because you’re leaving family. Everything I knew was back in the America and everything new was here – I don’t have any family ties and I didn’t really know anyone coming over here. But it’s a decision I’m happy with.”
Moore’s education on the depth of English football was swift, not least thanks to a loan stint at Torquay before a season permanently with the Non-League Gulls.
It was an experience that could only build character with the Devon club struggling in the National League to the extent manager Kevin Nicholson would sometimes drive the minibus to away games.
Against all the odds, the Gulls managed to beat relegation and Moore’s form brought a move to League One with Rochdale.
“I was able to do well in my loan and then ended up signing the next season and playing well,” he said.
“It was character building, not just on the football side. Kevin Nicholson did very well with the situation we were in and helped the club out massively.
“It threw me into the deep end. I hadn’t played much in England up until that point so I was able to play games, which was the most important thing. I was able to get experience but, also, show I’m able to play.
“Coming from America, similar to here with the lower leagues and how we’re not very familiar with it, I don’t think people here are very familiar with the system in America so you have to really prove yourself.”
The United States boasts a long list of top goalkeepers. Moore grew up admiring Kasey Keller, Brad Friedel and Tim Howard and was always set on following in their footsteps.
“The facilities at the university I went to are outstanding,” Moore said. “We had a big sports programme. Basketball was the number one but the university is able to put so much money into the athletic department and provides the athletes with everything they need to do both school and play at a high level at the same time.
“I always played football from a young age. I played baseball growing up and American football when I was a teenager but football was always my main sport.”
Having broken into Keith Hill’s side recently – he’s kept three clean sheets in his last four league games – Moore is determined to show he can stay there.
“We have a good competitive group so it’s tough to break into the team,” Moore said. “Then you have to stay consistent to stay in the team so that’s what I’m focusing on at the moment.
“The manager has been really supportive and shown he trusts me to play. Our goalkeeper group is really good. You compete with each other but you support each other. We push each other to perform better.”
UP FOR IT: Rochdale keeper Brendan Moore in action against Charlton
GLOVE STORY: Brendan Moore