JORDAN Moore has revealed he is targeting a return to competitive football next season after his successful operation to remove skin cancer. The Dundee United player, who is currently training three times a week, also thanked Hibernian manager Alan Stubbs as well as his own team-mates for their invaluable support.
Speaking at the launch of the PFA Scotland Wellbeing Fund, an initiative which will tackle the issue of mental health and addiction among players, Moore accepted that at first he had tried to regain full fitness too quickly after being given the all-clear in May. “I was rushing things trying to get my fitness up and I have been told to take it slow,” he said.
“The worst aspect is trying to be patient, but I need to listen to what I’m told and hopefully I will be back for next season. I have my own exercise programme and then I’ll do a full pre-season next summer. My contract runs to the end of next season so everything is okay on that front.
“Everyone at the club has been so supportive. They’ve been on the phone every day to my family to make sure they were all right, so that was a big thing for me. I want to repay them.”
Stubbs, who successfully overcame testicular cancer during his own playing career, met up with the 20-year-old United player to offer his support. “He came down and spoke to me, because he had been through a similar thing,” Moore continued. “He was saying it took him a lot longer and he thought I was crazy to be training just six weeks after the operation. It was nice of him to come down, and he also phoned me a couple of times.
“When he was diagnosed he was 28 and he had already been at a top level and played for top clubs, but I’m at the start of my career. He had the background and had already made some money. It’s much harder for me as I’m trying to make a career in football.”
A dinner in Glasgow next month will help raise income for the fund, and for the Dundee-based charity for which Moore has become an ambassador…Tccl (short for Tayside Children with Cancer and Leukaemia, and pronounced “Tickle”).
“I tried to spend my nights doing things to help other people. Tccl looks after kids who are in the last few weeks before they pass away.
“It’s just to allow them to spend time with their families in a nice environment – a last memory. It’s quite a nice charity to be involved with.”
Moore, who will host his own fundraising dinner in January, views his present and former flatmates in Dundee as examples of what he hopes to achieve in the game. “My flatmate is John Souttar, and [former United players] Ryan Gauld and Andy Robertson stayed with us too. You see how well they’re doing and you just want to get a wee taste of it.
“That’s the hardest thing – being patient. You just want to get to where they are. You see it and you want it, but hopefully next season will be the time for me.”
While Moore has had physical illness to overcome, the players’ union has dealt with an increasing number of off-field issues. Queen of the South’s Iain Russell and David Cox of Peterhead have both spoken about dealing with depression, and yesterday Russell, who will be on the management committee of the Wellbeing Fund, urged everyone in the game to give it their support. “I want to help in any way I can,” Russell said. “I feel I’ve come through the worst in terms of what I’ve suffered.
“It used to be the case [that] no-one wanted to speak about these things. Looking back, attitudes were terrible, but thankfully times have changed.”
PFA Scotland chief executive Fraser Wishart echoed that sentiment, saying that the sport now dealt more sensitively with problems such as depression as well as other issues like gambling addiction. “It’s important to remember that footballers are no different from other people,” he said. “They are not immune to the issues, the problems and the temptations of life.
“David Cox bravely came out in the newspapers recently to talk about his problems. He is not a high-profile player, but the reaction was huge to his story. My colleague Stuart Lovell has been a rock for him through his problems. But there are others, although maybe not as acute. They need counselling from professionals, and funds from this event will pay for that.
“Gambling addiction is a horrible thing, I’ve seen it ruin players’ lives, their relationships, families. That’s something we pay for as well, if people come forward needing help.”
Wishart hopes that in time Scottish football’s governing bodies will also be involved in programmes that help with player welfare, but he believes that his own association cannot afford to wait until formal agreement is reached with all relevant parties.
“We hope to come to a partnership with the SFA and the SPL, but we don’t have anything formal in place yet. We have players who need help yesterday.”
Former internationals James McFadden, Kenny Miller and Stephen McManus will join guests for a dinner and pre-match Q&A session before watching the Euro 2016 qualifier between Scotland and the Republic of Ireland on giant screens. Tables of ten cost £500 and individual tickets £50.
• To book a table or for more information contact Michelle Evans at PFA Scotland on 07796171490 or email firstname.lastname@example.org