Arsenal and QPR duo were always destined to turn professional
PUBLISHED: 17:30 09 December 2016 | UPDATED: 18:12 09 December 2016
Like many aspiring footballers, former Brent district duo Tafari Moore and Osman Kakay's ultimate dream was turning professional when they were youngsters.
The duo, now both 19, first met while they were in Year 1 at Carlton Vale Infant School, with their passion and love of football bringing them closer together – and to this day they remain close friends.
They’ve gone down their different pathways in recent years, that’s for sure. While playing for their Sunday League outfit Actual Soccer, they were both scouted by Queens Park Rangers, eventually going on to join the club’s Under-9 group.
Kakay is still at Loftus Road - recently penning a one-year extension (below) to his current deal which was due to expire next summer.
However, Moore followed Raheem Sterling out of the club when he was 12 to join Premier League giants Arsenal – and remains on the club’s books to this day.
Speaking to the Times Moore, who started out as a centre-back before establishing himself as a right-sided defender, recalled memories of their time growing up together.
He said: “Osman and me have been together from the start.
“I didn’t really know he was into football until we were both in year 3 at Kilburn Park School.
“We trained and played with each other for our school team, but then after that we both joined QPR.
“My dad and Osman’s dad got involved in our training sessions too, which was great. To this day our families remain close.
“It’s funny how it’s turned out and that we both play in the same position now [right-back].
“We still talk regularly and are always encouraging each other to push on and be the best we can be.”
Moore, who signed a two-year contract extension with the Gunners in January, received a major boost in September as he was called up to train with the England senior team.
He explained: “We had our Under-20 match against Brazil and we knew Sam Allardyce was watching the game. I managed to put in a really good performance.
“The next day the England senior team were training and Luke Shaw was injured, but the Under-21s were there as well so we just presumed that one of them would be selected as his replacement.
“But that morning I got a big bang on my door at 8:40 and I was thinking ‘who on earth is that?’ and just left it.
“But Max Lowe [from Derby] went to answer the door and it was one of the England people telling him that I had to go down and eat breakfast now because I had training.
“I asked her if I had time to get showered but she said I had to come down straight away. When I went downstairs the coaches came up to me and said I’d been called up to the England first team. When I heard that I was so excited but nervous at the same time.
“I was thinking to myself ‘Wow, is this really happening to me?’. I had always dreamt of this moment.”
He continued: “After the session Sam Allardyce came up to me and told me he was really pleased with my contribution – and would be seeing me again soon.
“That was a great confidence boost and I’m very grateful to Sam.”
While Moore – who is a proud Rastafarian – is currently on a season-long loan at Eredivisie club FC Utrecht, Kakay has made great strides in W12 this term, making two appearances for the first team to date, while also regularly featuring in the matchday squads – something which has delighted his close friend.
Moore added: “For me to see him do that also wants to make me push harder and get to where I need to get to, and the same goes for Osman.
“I’ve always got Osman’s back and he’s got mine.”
Kakay, who started off as a striker before switching to right-back while playing for QPR’s Under-14s, has been delighted with the progress he’s made this season – paying tribute to former Rs boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink for the faith he showed in him during his tenure.
He said: “When we came back for pre-season the [then] manager told the youngsters at the club we all had a chance of breaking into the first-team squad if we worked hard and took our opportunity when it came.
“The reception I got for my debut [against Rochdale] was amazing. That will stay with me for the rest of my life.”
He added: “The loan spell at Livingston was a great learning curve for me.
“When I came back for training at QPR in the summer it was still a bit of a shock, but not as much as I thought it would initially be.
“By the time pre-season had ended I had got right up to the pace and felt confident I could play a part in this team’s long-term future and I still have that feeling now.”
One of the pair’s former youth team coaches at QPR, John Creith, said he knew from an early age that they were destined for big things.
He told the Times: “Paul Ashwood and myself picked the lads up while they were playing at a Belmont FC tournament.
“Both of them were intelligent players, who were athletic, hard- working and technically excellent.
“I firmly believe they will both have long and successful careers in the professional game.”
Follow Tafari and Osman on Instagram: Tafari_Moore #ForeverMoore & Ozzyb97