MICHAEL McCANN spoke to Adriano Moke who opened up about playing football while attempting to battle depression and how the sport has helped him
Wembley wins, multiple promotions and severe depression. At 24, Adriano Moke has seen it all but is now ready to succeed after conquering the illness.
Moke admits that his depression first surfaced through disappointment at a promising youth career “not leading to immediate results in the professional game.”
This involved stints at Manchester United, Leeds United and Nottingham Forest that ultimately proved unsuccessful.
Experience at the renowned Glenn Hoddle academy in Spain improved him “technically and in games, through matches being at the Spanish equivalent of League 2.” This also shaped the midfielder into a player that is most comfortable in possession and when taking players on.
A move to York City followed, where Moke contributed to the club’s promotion from the Conference and and victory FA Trophy — understandably he considers winning two Wembley finals in one season to be “the highlight of my career.”
The talented youngster surprised many by rejecting a new contract from The Minstermen, joining Cambridge United in June 2012. He now regrets turning down League football and “taking York for granted, not realising what a great team and club I was part of.”
The move to Cambridge was unsuccessful, though provided a lesson learned. “I only do my talking on the pitch,” he said, after experiencing frustration and knowing he “could give more to the club if given the chance.”
Following a loan spell at Tamworth, the midfielder joined FC Halifax Town in January 2013, showing his positional versatility by becoming adept as a left wing-back.
The new position saw Moke become a regular in a side that won promotion from the Conference South and winning the West Riding County Cup. Shaymen fans will never forget the player’s man of the match performance in the Cup final victory over local neighbours Guiseley.
In August 2013 Halifax fans and players were surprised that a new contract was not offered, given that he had the creativity and ability to change a game.
Following this, his depression had reached a nadir due to his concerns about being unattached. These factors combined and Moke said that he was: “Going nowhere and thinking what am I doing? I started trying to ignore it, which made it worse.”
Events spiralled. “I reached a point where I had seen enough of life but my family saved me.”
His story shows that depression remains a taboo in football but Moke feels that it can change with the help from those around the game.
He said: “It can be tackled through starting with more education and understanding. Through better understanding the perspectives of players and what causes them to become depressed.”
The PFA intervened to assist, with Moke describing their adviser as being “brilliant in helping me to talk things through and build a more positive future.”
Subsequently, a move to Stockport County in September 2013 helped. “It was a big wake-up call through adjusting to part-time football and chasing that chance to go full-time again.”
Macclesfield Town have given Moke that chance this season and he has repaid them through good form, frequent appearances and a first Silkmen goal.
Areas of improvement have been targeted. “I want to score more goals, as creative players at a higher level do — that is how you get noticed.”
Often used as a winger due to his pace and agility Moke would rather be used more centrally. “ I prefer centre-midfield,” he said. “I am a playmaker and assister, not a natural goalscorer.”
An eventful career has left the 24 year-old a stronger and more learned person, who advises those with depression: “Talk to people, use family and others’ support to find your motivation in life.”
For Moke it is playing football and it is great to see the playmaker back to doing just that.