IN SAFE HANDS

Amer­i­can goal­keeper Bren­dan Moore on his jour­ney to Rochdale

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Matt Bad­cock

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.

Op­por­tu­nity

“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.

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.”

PIC­TURE: PA Im­ages

UP FOR IT: Rochdale keeper Bren­dan Moore in ac­tion against Charl­ton

GLOVE STORY: Bren­dan Moore

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