Taylor Moore experienced an odd feeling in July. He walked out onto the Albstadion pitch in Heidenheim with Three Lions on his chest, the then-Lens defender bursting with pride in captaining England in their opening match of the UEFA European U-19 Championship. Then, La Marseillaise played, and Moore no doubt smiled to himself. He knows the words, not just because he is a fluent French speaker, but because - until recently - the central defender had been a resident of France from the age of seven.
“It was odd, but in a good way,” Moore told *FIFA.com *in an exclusive interview. “A few of the boys did ask me how I felt, if I was OK. I am English, I have an English family and a British passport. When I went out there I was playing for England and gave it my all. A little part of me does feel French though. I’ve always enjoyed that little bit of difference. I consider it a different opportunity. I wouldn’t say that it’s better or worse, but it’s good sometimes to be the odd one out and it’s fun telling my story, it’s a bit different to some of the others.”
Despite recently moving back to England with Bristol City, the defender has an undoubtedly strong affinity with France. Moore’s family moved to the country from England, initially for one year, in 2004. His mother and two younger brothers – one of whom, Keaton, is in Lens’ academy at U-17 level – still live in France, with Moore’s father heading out at weekends despite working in the UK. Moore’s move to England in August means he is living in an ever so slightly alien environment, despite it being the country of his birth, as well as the one he represents on the football pitch.
“I’d been living on my own for a year in France, but living on my own in another country is a bit different,” Moore said. “However, people at the club have me feel really welcome and some of the boys have offered me a hand if ever I needed it.”
When Moore left England aged seven, Arsenal’s ‘Invincibles’ were the country’s reigning champions and Jose Mourinho was beginning his first season as Chelsea manager.
“I remember quite a lot from [my youth in] England,” Moore recalled. “I went to my first school in the country, and I’ve always had the family back in England, going backwards and forwards. I’ve always seen myself moving back to England at some point. I wouldn’t say that it’s a massive change for me because I’ve always had one foot in each country.”
It’s a World Cup, it doesn’t get much better than that. Hopefully I can captain the team and lead us there.
The defender’s story, while uncommon, is not entirely unique. Full England international Eric Dier moved to Portugal aged seven, working his way through the Sporting CP academy, as Moore did at Lens.
“I’ve met him a number of times,” the self-confessed Tottenham Hotspur fan said. “He sent me a message when I moved to Bristol City. I’ve been in touch with him and spoke with him quite a few times at [England’s training centre] St George’s Park. I hope one day I can be as good as him. He’s really the kind of player that I look up to.”
Moore has already had an opportunity to play alongside his idol when, on one of the visits to St George’s Park, Moore was summoned to train with the senior side.
“It was definitely a little surreal,” Moore smiled. “You go from playing [the video game] FIFA and having a lot of the players on that pitch in your team and then they’re shouting at you because they want the ball from you! They made me feel really welcome, the players and the coaches. We’re often around them at St George’s so we get the opportunity to talk to them and learn from them but it was a great experience, being part of it all and having the chance to pass the ball to Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney.”
*Dier the idol
*Dier had the opportunity to represent his nation at the FIFA U-20 World Cup at Turkey 2013, with Moore hoping to emulate the Spurs man next year in Korea Republic. Despite winning that opening EURO U-19 game against France 2-1, Moore’s side ended up exiting the tournament against Italy at the semi-final stage. Reaching the last four was enough for the Three Lions to join Les Bleus, Germany, Italy and Portugal in filling Europe’s five spots in Asia.
“I’m definitely excited,” Moore beamed, when asked about next year’s global finals. “I think everyone in the England set-up, whether it’s staff or players, are very excited. We’ve got such a strong squad, the competition for places is really good. Hopefully if I work hard at Bristol City and keep getting the calls for England, I’ll be part of that squad. It’s a World Cup, it doesn’t get much better than that. Hopefully I can captain the team and lead us there. I think we’ve got the talent and the drive in our squad to do really well.”
As well as being fluent in French, Moore began Spanish lessons as part of a university course earlier this year. If he is interested in broadening his multicultural horizons ever further and learning Korean there will be just one word the Three Lions skipper will be hoping he needs to translate from English or French on Sunday 11 June 2017: 챔피언 (champion).