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Get To Know Bob Bradley, Swansea City's New Coach

Picture of Paul McQueen
Updated: 5 October 2016
You might not have heard of this 58-year-old soccer coach before but he is, without question, one of America’s most valuable sporting exports of the moment. The New Jersey native played the beautiful game at Princeton University before launching a coaching career that has seen him master Major League Soccer, manage multiple international teams, and break ground in the English Premier League.

Trailblazer

Bradley’s rise to prominence reached its peak in October 2016 when he was named manager of Swansea City in the EPL, becoming the first American to manage in England’s top league. “To go to the Premier League is special,” Bradley said. “It’s still an opportunity for me, my family and for American football. That’s important.”

He Started Young

Unlike many professional coaches who come into the job after many years as a player or working their way up through a team’s administrative and managerial ranks, Bradley got his first major position at 22 years old. After graduating from Princeton and undertaking a sports management program at Ohio University, Bradley was named the manager of the school’s Division I soccer team. This was the start of an illustrious college soccer career which saw him manage at the University of Virginia and his alma mater.

He Rocked MLS For A Decade

Bradley managed at four MLS clubs, either as an assistant or head coach, crisscrossing the United States between 1996 and 2006 to work with D.C. United, Chicago Fire, New York/New Jersey MetroStars and Chivas USA. He led the Fire to an MLS Cup and US Open Cup double in 1998 and to a second victory in the latter competition in 2000.

He Revived USA’s International Performance

At the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, Bradley led the U.S. men’s national team convincingly through the group stage with a win over Algeria and draws against England and Slovenia. USA lost to Ghana in extra time in the Round of 16. Bradley was fired a year after this narrow defeat. “I don’t think that our teams, and the work of our staff, always got the respect that we deserved,” Bradley said. “I think we got greater respect from Europe than we got from within the United States.”

He Was Once An ‘American Pharaoh’

Bradley moved quickly from one international squad to another, being named coach of Egypt‘s national team in 2011. The Pharaohs, as the national side is known at home, had extremely high hopes for their World Cup prospects under Bradley’s leadership. Everything started well, with six faultless matches in qualifying. However, Ghana, Bradley’s old World Cup nemesis, came back to haunt him with a decisive defeat that eliminated Egypt in the third round playoffs before they even got to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. This led to the end of the American Pharaoh’s reign.

An American Pioneer In Europe

In January 2014, Bradley signed a contract to manage Stabaek Football of the Norwegian Tippeligaen. This made him the first American to be at the helm of a European club in the top flight of its domestic league. Stabaek finished third in 2015, which qualified the team for the UEFA Europa League.

Making History With France’s Oldest Team

On November 10, 2015, Bradley became manager of Le Havre, a team founded in 1894. Since their relegation to Ligue 2 in 2000, the team has only made it back into the top flight once (2008), and was relegated after one season. Le Havre came within one goal of promotion in Bradley’s debut season.

He Comes From A Sporting Family

Not only was Bradley a soccer player in his day, his brother Scott played baseball for the Seattle Mariners and three other Major League Baseball teams in the 1980s and 90s. Their brother Jeff is a sports journalist and broadcaster, who has worked with ESPN and New York Daily News. Perhaps most impressively, Bob Bradley’s son, Michael, is the current captain of the U.S. national squad and played in the Bundesliga and Serie A before transferring to Toronto FC of the MLS.