SEEKING to prosper in the face of criticism is something that Kieffer Moore has long since grown used to in his career.
So when talk turns to the question of proving himself in the Championship arena with new club Barnsley, the 6ft 5ins striker has an unequivocal message for anyone who may choose to deride his credentials.
With a steely look in his eye that does not waver, Moore’s message is lucid and defiant: Carry on criticising him, it is just the way he likes it.
He certainly experienced his fair share of that at previous club Ipswich Town, where many fans scoffed at his ability to become a success story at second-tier level on the back of a run of no goals in 11 substitute appearances.
Even going back to his early days in non-league circles, where he did the hard yards with the likes of Truro City and Dorchester City, stick was never far away.
But the Devonian – who joined the Reds in a £750,000 deal earlier this week – is now at a point in his career where he does not plainly just accept it, he positively encourages it and uses it as motivational fuel.
After proving himself emphatically during his recent loan spell at Rotherham United where he plundered 13 goals in 22 League One appearances and got his career back on the straight and narrow, Moore has provided cast-iron evidence that he is made of the right stuff.
Moore, hoping to make his debut at home to Championship leaders Wolves at Oakwell tomorrow, said: “I have had it (criticism) everywhere I have been and it is something I have grown used to – and kind of like, to be fair.
“I always like people doubting me and it gives me more energy and motivation to prove them wrong.
“Just me being me, I always believe I have something to prove. I believe every time I step on the pitch that I am proving people wrong and that is the way I am. I always want to have that chip on my shoulder.
“You have to take positives out of everything and that is my drive and there’s nothing better than showing someone that they are wrong about you and showing them you can do it if you work hard enough.
“I could have buckled and let it affect me (before). But it is not the character I am. I am a strong character and pride myself on that.”
Now resident at a club who have embraced their underdog tag at Championship level over the years, and positively revel in making any critics eat their words, Moore should feel truly at home.
Moore admits that his decision to move to the Reds was a straightforward one despite rival interest from the likes of Rotherham, where he enjoyed such a handsome loan spell and won many friends, and Bradford City.
A three-and-a-half year deal provides him with security too, with his mission now being to follow the likes of Conor Hourihane, Marc Roberts, Sam Winnall and Josh Scowen in punching his Championship weight after striving to make a name further down the leagues.
Moore continued: “This is the perfect club for me to showcase my ability in the league above.
“Obviously, I am 25 now and over the past two years or so I have been here, there and everywhere. I wanted to cement a place and, thankfully, I have got this at Barnsley and now I can kick on and hopefully show the best of my football.
“Obviously it is a higher intensity. Everyone knows that and there’s more ability in this league. Ultimately, at the end of the day I don’t think about the other players, but what I am doing for myself and how I can impact the game and I know I can do it.”
The allure of joining a club who love to play the underdog card was very much up Moore’s street too.
He added: “Of course. It is a brilliant motivation and players should have that. That was something that appealed to me.”
Moore’s former club Rotherham have plugged the gap vacated by his departure with the signing of Bury forward Michael Smith.
The north-easterner, 26 – who spent a short loan spell at Barnsley back in 2015-16 – has joined for an undisclosed fee.
He is eyeing a debut in tomorrow’s Roses’ trip to Oldham Athletic where the Millers, unbeaten in six League One matches, will be aiming to continue their play-off drive.
The Millers’ strong form at the end of 2017, which saw them take 13 points from a possible 18, has culminated in Paul Warne winning the League One manager of the month award for December.
Meanwhile, Rotherham captain Lee Frecklington has returned to hometown club Lincoln City, where he started his career.
Frecklington, 32, has agreed a two-and-half-year contract with the Red Imps, who are believed to have paid the Millers a significant fee.
Chesterfield are keen on signing veteran Millers defender Richard Wood, while Warne is taking a look at ex-Owls midfielder and free agent Giles Coke in training.