After cancer took away his dream of a stellar career as a Dundee United player, Jordan Moore is delighted to have a second chance to help the club he loves.
The 25-year-old made the decision to hang up his boots for good shortly before arriving at Tannadice for a second time, on this occasion as head of talent ID and recruitment for the club’s revamped academy.
On the verge of the first team in 2014, Moore was rocked by a skin cancer diagnosis that saw more than 90 lymph nodes removed from his neck and shoulder.
He tried valiantly to get his career back on track by heading to Queen’s Park on loan from Tannadice before a spell in Ireland with Limerick and a year playing in the lower divisions in Thailand.
However, the demands on his body were too much to play professional football after his surgery.
Sitting down for a chat with Tele Sport, Moore admits to feeling it.
“Even talking now, my shoulder is in bits, so sore,” he said.
“Constant pain 24/7 and when centre-backs were coming through the back of me it made it worse.
“I was quite a physical player, not dirty, but would back into players and use my body.
“If a centre-back smashes you and hits your neck then it would be two or three days before the pain died down.”
Moore stopped playing on his return to Scotland from the Far East and joined back up at United a year ago shortly after his 25th birthday.
In that short time, Moore has witnessed the club’s expansion from just one scout to 16, all dedicated to bringing the best possible talent to the Dundee United academy.
Despite having to give up his dream at such an early age, Moore has no regrets.
“It wasn’t a difficult decision to stop playing because it was a great opportunity to come back to United and I know I gave myself every chance to get back playing at the highest level possible,” he said.
“My body just wouldn’t allow it. The doctors said the stress that is put on your body wasn’t helping.
“They left it up to me but recommended I stopped playing.
“I gave it everything – went to Queen’s Park on loan, then out to Limerick and Thailand but I never could get back to the level I wanted to be at.
“That was the hardest thing.
“With the operations I’d had, I couldn’t handle the physicality of the Scottish game so, when I came back, I decided enough was enough.”
After returning from Thailand to work as Scottish scout for Tranmere Rovers, Moore jumped at the chance to return to his old club when academy director Andy Goldie came calling.
Jordan added: “I always hoped I’d be back.
“I think it helps I’ve been through the academy myself and you can relate to parents.
“I wanted to keep playing but this is probably the second-best thing – I’m at a club I love, doing the job that can give other boys the same opportunity I had and, hopefully, they go on to have better careers than I had.
“I’m still in contact with the other boys that came through with me and it’s great to see them doing well.
“John Souttar is doing really well, an international now, and we go over to see Ryan Gauld in Portugal as well.
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“He’s doing well there. I think the game over there suits him better.
“Then there’s Andy Robertson. You don’t need to say anything about him, but boys like him, Stuart Armstrong and Gary Mackay-Steven came through and it is brilliant to see them doing well.
“It’s great to be able to give others the opportunity to do that well. It’s an unbelievable life for them but I know about the other side as well, because not everybody can make it.
“It’s about how you deal with the person if they are released. I think it’s massive for people at the club to stay in contact with them.
“It’s a lonely place when you are released. Some might think their dream is over at 12 or 13 but it couldn’t be further from the truth.
“I know it’s a cliche to play every game like it’s your last but, in my experience, you have to.
“It could be – you never know what’s around the corner, could be illness or a bad tackle.
“I tell people about my experiences of going through the worst but also show them you can bounce back.
“It’s all about how you deal with it and you have to stay positive.
“I feel I’ve made the most of a bad situation and I’m working as hard as I can to help Dundee United.”
And Moore is delighted to be at a club that is investing so much in academy football.
He added: “There is real ambition at the club. The owner told us he sees the academy as the most important part of the club.
“He wants to produce home-grown players. There’s nothing the fans like more than seeing players coming through into the first team.
“We are trying to do that for them, bring through players that are good enough and have the right mentality to play first-team games for Dundee United.”