Meikayla Moore scored an own-goal hat-trick – but she won’t let it define her

When she was away with the New Zealand national team in February, Meikayla Moore’s world changed overnight.

“The incident in America – that’s what I call it at this stage,” says the 26-year-old former Liverpool defender. “I can laugh about it now. I worked a lot (with my therapist). He was amazing.

The “incident” happened on February 20. Moore was playing against the United States in the SheBelieves Cup. Within six minutes of kick-off, she had scored two own goals. The first ricocheted off his right foot, the second bounced directly into his face.

In the 36th minute, Moore headed a cross into his own net trying to clear it with his left foot. Dubbed a “perfect hat-trick of his own goals,” the clip instantly went viral on social media.

“As a player, if there’s a negative consequence, you always criticize everything you do,” Moore said as he sat outside the Lovelocks Coffee Shop in Liverpool city centre. “And that was the hardest thing for me because I don’t think there’s a worse end result than scoring three own goals.

“I shook it after the first. It happens. I’m a defender. I’m the person between goalkeeper, striker and goal. It can happen. I also knew we were playing one of the best in the world and that it had to happen sometimes.

“The second came out of the striker’s shoulder and hit me in the face and came in. I looked up at the sky and thought, ‘I hope this isn’t going to be a thing “.

“From that moment, I don’t really remember much. I went a little numb and it just got worse. Between the second and the third goal, I had clearly evacuated my body.

“The third should never happen in any case. If someone thinks that’s how I am as a player, they can have their own opinion. I don’t remember being in my head at that time -the.

Before the third goal, Moore went for a New Zealand corner, hoping to make amends. Instead, she remembers being taunted by fans at Dignity Health Sports Park in Los Angeles.

“I haven’t really spoken about it publicly,” Moore begins. “We went up and I’m there because of my size and aerial ability and the stands were actually chanting ‘Hat trick with own purpose’ and banging on the drums. I had the impression that he was going around the whole stadium. I was like, ‘Woah, what?’. I didn’t feel like it was real at the time. And then, of course, the third came and I was eliminated.

Although you wouldn’t know it from his relaxed, confident demeanor — wearing his baseball cap backwards — Moore has spent the past few months trying to rebuild himself.

“It’s just one of those weird things and that’s what I attribute it to now,” she says. “I knew I could either let it define me or not. And that’s what my therapist said – I worked a lot with him on that.

“The hard part is that it brought to the fore a lot of things that I thought I was dealing with. So you’re confronted with not only what happened, but also other things that you’re still trying to manage, like my own personal issues – and that was just a lot.

“I’ve had a very difficult few months and you don’t really have time to sit and wallow because I had to come back here (to Liverpool). I’m a professional and I like to conduct myself like one.

“It’s not a small club either, so of course I was going to have some extra attention on me. The club supported me a lot and I’m very grateful for that.

Moore remembers sitting on the bus after the game and deleting all the apps on her phone. She didn’t see the thousands of negative comments, many disparaging and draped in misogyny, that followed.

Moore that day at Dignity Health Sports Park (Photo: Brad Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

“This kind of incident – it’s unheard of,” she said. “Nobody had been there. I was sort of navigating with myself, my therapist and my family. And it was really, really hard.

“The social media aspect was extremely challenging. I just knew. I didn’t even want to go there. I didn’t want to look. I knew what would happen there.

Moore’s mother Donna, her sister Danielle and her close friends told her about the positive messages she also received from fans and fellow professionals, including Megan Rapinoe, Magdalena Eriksson and Carli Lloyd. Weeks later, when she was ready to tackle the mountain of notifications, she was overwhelmed by the level of support.

“Jurgen (Klopp) actually messaged me on WhatsApp,” she says. “I had done the video with him for the rainbow laces campaign and it was amazing. He is so friendly and was not only interested in the campaign and supporting it, but also me as a footballer .

“After what happened, he immediately contacted me and said he would like to chat with me. We ended up having a Whatsapp video call. He called me from his office. ‘talk about.

“I remember him telling me it was just a freak accident and it could happen to anyone, it didn’t define me and also that no one would really think in a year or five more late.

“And since then, we have been communicating regularly. He messaged me on my birthday and I messaged him on his today. It’s really cool. Honestly, he’s such an amazing guy. He told me I probably had the Guinness World Record. I’ll look into that!”

She laughs. “I strongly believe – and it’s something my mum made me think – that when it’s in the past, it’s in the past. I can’t change it but I won’t let it define me. I going to hopefully create new memories and new moments that I’m known for, rather than, you know…”


Moore at Prenton Park after playing for Liverpool in April (Photo: Nick Taylor/Liverpool FC/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

Back at Liverpool, it was all about getting back to basics.

“I had to learn to love myself,” she says. “People tell me now, ‘You’re like the old you; you recovered.

“I don’t feel like an old me. I feel like a new me – someone who has lost many layers over the past year. I think it’s important to highlight this mental health space. The more you talk about it the more it becomes normalized and that’s why I have no problem saying I had to reach out because even before America I was struggling.

“I think it takes that stigma away from asking for help because it’s scary. But I’ve learned so much about myself. And by connecting my sexuality, I feel more grounded in that too.

A proud lesbian, Moore took every opportunity to be photographed wearing anything rainbow-colored during Pride Month.

“Now that I’m back (online), I feel lucky to have the platform that I do,” Moore says. “And I know that the things I post have an impact on others, especially as an openly gay individual. I think back to when I was young, if I had some kind of representation (it would have helped me) There were people on the national team that I knew but they weren’t great, you know, public, which is why I’m so vocal right now with Pride Month.

“Last year I posted a picture of the lesbian flag and a few girls back home messaged me. I was surprised by these. I can live my truth openly thanks to the pioneers of this community And I had people (to lean on) when I was young, but it was people overseas like Ali Krieger, Ashlyn Harris and Megan Rapinoe But it wasn’t near my home and I think being a New Zealander is important to me, it’s a much smaller nation so if I can have an impact on the kids there it would be very rewarding.

Moore is due to travel to Oslo to meet the New Zealand side for a friendly against Norway before traveling to Spain to face Wales. Upon her return to England, she will pack her bags to leave Liverpool after two years at the club. A conversation with manager Matt Beard marked the end of his time on Merseyside.

“It didn’t go as I would have hoped,” she said. “I totally understand that football is a business and you’re not going to be a player for every manager and that’s how the cookie crumbles. We just had a conversation and it was like, ‘We we’re not going to offer you a new contract’ and I was like, ‘OK’.

She makes it look easy but it hurts.

“It was tough,” Moore says. “But I’m a professional and I know that’s part of the game. I would have liked to stay, don’t get me wrong.

“I hope that one day I can find an environment in a club where I can stay for a few years. It’s hard to move every two years, to uproot my life.

“(In women’s football) you don’t tend to sign more than two. Sometimes you sign one with the option of extending. You never know how it’s going to work out. future and our stars lined up, I would love to come back (to Liverpool).

The city took care of Moore when it needed it most.

“The support I’ve received personally from the fans has been incredible,” she said, after receiving the banner from her supporters as a parting gift. “When people say people make a city, Liverpool does. I feel very privileged to have experienced that.

“As a footballer, I have been very lucky to attend the Olympics and World Cups, but I can say openly and honestly that the experience is up there (at the post-season parade of Liverpool) with one of my best football experiences. It was unreal, the support that was pouring in for the boys, but we also felt like people knew us and it was phenomenal.

At the end of the interview, Athleticism thank you Moore for his honesty.

“I have no problem talking about it because it’s real life,” she says. “And life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows – even though my world has plenty of rainbows.”

(Top photo: Omar Vega/Getty Images)

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