Kieffer Moore plans to fire Wales to the 2020 European Championship just nine months after a fractured skull left him fearing for his future.
Moore suffered the horror injury – similar to the one which ended the career of Hull and England midfielder Ryan Mason in 2018 – playing for former club Barnsley at Gillingham in February.
The 6ft 5ins striker was unconscious on the pitch for eight minutes after challenging for a header.
Moore was rushed to hospital and in the following days the 27-year-old was forced to contemplate retirement and a future career as a personal trainer.
“It was a horrendous injury,” Moore recalled ahead of Wales’ vital Euro 2020 qualifier in Azerbaijan on Saturday.
“At the time I didn’t remember much. But as the weeks went on I started remembering it all again.
“The defender headed the side of my head, I fractured my temporal bone and had a really nasty concussion.
“I wasn’t in a good way. My agent was there and he was ringing my mum and girlfriend – and they weren’t best pleased.
“I had blood streaming out of my ears. It was quite graphic.
“I didn’t have an operation, but I had a CT scan and multiple other scans and they determined the outcome.”
Moore spent two months out before playing a few games at the end of the season and then joined Wigan in a reported £3million summer deal.
Torquay-born Moore – who qualifies for Wales through his maternal grandfather – made his international debut in a September friendly against Belarus and scored on his first competitive outing in Slovakia, a 1-1 draw in Euro 2020 qualifying.
Just three games into his international career – he also started the 1-1 home draw with Croatia last month – Moore has acquired cult-hero status among Wales fans.
“I believe that moment (fracturing his skull) has put a lot of things into perspective for me,” Moore said.
“How l live my life and what I want from my career as a footballer.
“There were talks about retiring, but I made a very good recovery and now I’m here.
“I still have to go up for headers, and if I believed I couldn’t do that anymore I would walk out of the game.
“If the ball is there to be won then I’m going to try and win it, and give everything for the cause like I’ve done the whole of my career.”
The exotically named Moore – he was christened after the actor Kiefer Sutherland and owes his middle names Roberto and Francesco to his Italian family heritage – has had to be patient for his success.
Moore trod the non-league boards at Truro and Dorchester, played in the cold of Norway at Viking FK, and journeyed to Yeovil, Forest Green, Torquay, Ipswich and Rotherham before ending up at Barnsley.
All of which seems a long way from joining Gareth Bale and Daniel James in attack as Wales chase six points from qualifiers against Azerbaijan and Hungary to book a place at next summer’s Euro 2020 finals.
“When you look back on it, it’s mental how my life has changed in such a short space of time,” Moore said.
“But I know what I can do and I’ve done it on big stages.
“It was all about proving myself to even get on the pitch, and then once I was there I knew that it would shine through.
“Qualifying for the Euros would be a massive achievement and honour, not just for me but the whole nation. It would be unbelievable.”