In Young Guns, featured first in the official matchday programme, we find out about the next generation of Arsenal youngsters, in their own words. This week we spoke to defender Tafari Moore.
I am now back from injury, fully fit and signed my second professional contract at the beginning of this year so everything is going really well right now. I have had injury issues over the last couple of years but I would not say that these were wasted months.
My initial injury was quite unusual in that it originated from an extra ligament that I was born with in my hip. It is known as Ligamentum Terris and some people are born with the ligament and some are not. It is only really useful as a baby but in later life it can become a hindrance.
For me I started feeling pain in my right hip but played through it. The pain was affecting my play. I was not able to properly kick the ball with my right foot. My passing was off and the pain would just get worse. Then in training I tried a Cruyff turn and a sharp pain shot through my body.
The medical staff carried out all the tests and were monitoring me with regular scans. I was expecting to be out for three months and I was feeling better and better and in my last week I was looking forward to getting back into contention to play again.
I felt good but when I met with Alistair, who was the Physio looking after me he said that the ligament was getting worse and that I would need surgery to remove it. It was quite confusing for me because I had no pain, felt strong but on the inside the actuality was the complete opposite.
I had the operation. Had two weeks off and I was back following the exercise programme that Alistair had recommended for me. I was out for the rest of that season which meant that all the targets that I had set for myself were unachievable. I concentrated on doing my best to recover.
At the same time I concentrated on improving my football education. I did a lot of replay analysis. Watching clips of my games and study what I did right and what I did wrong and trying to improve on these weaknesses. I also watched a lot of games and analysed them tying to improve my tactical awareness and I feel that has helped me become a better player.
Another positive side affect was that I started using my left foot more because I wanted to protect my right side and that had meant that my overall game has improved. I’m able to use either foot comfortably.
"I need to be out of my comfort zone and need the challenge that first team football will bring and hopefully that will come early next season"
The ball is more easily out of my feet so my head is up and I’m seeing the bigger picture of the game. I had two week off over the summer before I was back at the training ground working hard on all my exercises and I was happy to be there because it meant I was doing what was required to give me a chance to get back to full training and playing in games, which is what I love.
I was fit and able before the season started and I had a full pre-season. I began the season well, however, I think I must have been over compensating for the injury and I started feeling pain in my left hip.
Having learnt my lesson I went straight to Alistair and the rest of our medical staff who simply told me to rest and take my time and all that seemed to be happening was that I had been over working my left side in an imbalanced way because of my injury. My left side was fatigued.
That was October and I was back in December having followed all my stretching exercises. Everything is perfect now. I have been building up my fitness and I played my first full 90 minutes for the under-21s against West Brom a couple of weeks back.
The injury has also made me change my preparation. Before training I now make sure that I go through a full and thorough stretching routine before I warm up or even kick a ball. I am definitely feeling the benefits.
Also, although I was disappointed to have got injured last October. I received a massive boost shortly after when the club offered me a two year extension to my contract which I signed a couple of weeks ago. I was so happy – the timing was perfect. It has further spurred me on to make sure I come back stronger.
I definitely believe I am a better player now and although it may sound strange, the injury helped. My targets from last season have been brought forward and I mainly want to make my debut for the first team in 2016 and go out on loan next season.
I need to be out of my comfort zone and need the challenge that first-team football will bring and hopefully that will come early next season.