Wales’s Euro 2020 star and former Rotherham United and Barnsley striker Kieffer Moore destined for Premier League, says Paul Warne
The Millers chief got a tune out of the 6ft 5in forward – expected to lead the line for Wales in their second Group A European Championship game against Turkey in Baku later today – during the first half of 2017-18 when he joined on loan from Ipswich Town – scoring 13 times by mid-November.
Rotherham were outbid by Yorkshire rivals Barnsley when Moore left East Anglia permanently in January.
The goals flowed at Oakwell as they have at Moore’s current club Cardiff City and international kudos has also arrived in the red of Wales.
Moore’s majestic header to put the Dragons level against Switzerland in Azerbaijan on Saturday – in a tournament game watched by millions across the continent – was the completion of an astonishing journey, in many respects.
His school of hard knocks famously saw him head down the footballing pyramid to South Devon League side Paignton Saints after hometown club Torquay United closed their youth system.
Later stints at Conference South outfits Truro City and Dorchester Town followed, with the 28-year-old eventually making it to the Football League with Yeovil following a successful trial.
More rejection followed, a familiar theme. Moore headed out to Norwegian Tippeligaen outfit Viking before returning to England at National League side Forest Green to pick up the pieces.
A move to Ipswich would transpire in January, 2017 and again he would do it tough before heading to Rotherham.
His career has moved in an upward trajectory ever since and Warne feels that Moore’s rise doesn’t stop here.
Warne told The Yorkshire Post: “Kieffer is way past that line of proving people wrong now, he has done the whole circle.
“I have had probably six or seven managers phone me about him in the last few years saying: ‘Do you think he can do it again?’
“And I do and I honestly think he will go after this summer to the Premier League. Because you cannot tell me that he cannot do what (Christian) Benteke does for Crystal Palace in my opinion.
“I could imagine they (Cardiff) might get the odd offer or two which is too hard to turn down.”
Those early tough times have been the making of Moore, who was famously heckled during his time at Ipswich and derided as a Championship player after a run of no goals in 11 substitute appearances.
Plenty would have gone under, but the Devonian – who combined semi-professional football commitments in his early days with weekday work as a lifeguard and personal trainer – did not.
A driven individual, Moore – who qualifies for Wales through his maternal grandfather from Gwynedd – previously spoke to this particular newspaper about being happy to be written off and always wanting to ‘have that chip on my shoulder.’
Being outside of professional football and working for a living before fighting his way back in probably helps to explains that mindset.
Those taunts from Ipswich followers, who once famously cheered when he won a header in one particular game would reinforce that feeling. Not too many in Suffolk are laughing now.
Warne added: “I remember one of our last games of the Championship season (in 2016-17) and he caused Woody (Richard Wood) no end of problems.
“In fairness, I have signed two players on the back of that – Michael Smith and Kieffer.
“Kieffer was one who broke the mould. His work ethic was brilliant, he wanted to improve and his attitude was spot on and had no arrogance in any way and did not have any sense of entitlement, which is quite unique with modern-day footballers.
“What struck me about Kieffer was that he was a really intelligent clean-spoken confident kid.
“He has a physical presence, but when he speaks, people listen. He is a leader on the pitch.
“He is so brave. He scored no end of near-post headers for Barnsley from corners. Anyone who has played football at a decent level knows that if you attack that near post, you are expecting a keeper to punch you in the face and I also think what he doesn’t get credit for is the fact that he has really good feet. He is not just a simple target man.
“I always joke about the fact when he once scored two for us at home and had to come off with blood on his shirt and he was on the side of the pitch.
“The whole stadium was singing his name and I looked at my missus and Hammy’s (Matt Hamshaw) missus on the front row and they have never looked so happy – they were looking at him like he was a god.”