Michael Bradley was in Miami training with the U.S. national team on Monday when news broke that his father, former U.S. coach Bob Bradley, had been hired as manager of English Premier League team Swansea, the first American ever to lead a team in any of Europe’s five major leagues.
“I’m very, very excited. Very, very proud,” Michael Bradley said of his father’s new job. “It’s something, a dream that he’s had for a very long time. To be able to coach a big club in a big league. I’ve never seen somebody more fearless in the path and the choices that he made along the way.
“As somebody who is obviously very close with him, who looks up to him in every way, I couldn’t be more proud.”
Bradley, 58, replaces Italian Francesco Guidolin with Swansea, which is languishing in 17th place in the EPL standings with one win, one tie and five losses. He coaches his first match on Oct. 15 at Arsenal. He was chosen over former Manchester United star Ryan Giggs, Bayern Munich assistant Paul Clement and former Villarreal coach Marcelino Garcia Toral.
U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann, a native of Germany, said Bradley’s hiring at Swansea is “fantastic” news for American coaches.
“I really think it’s fantastic that there’s finally an ownership group in the Premier League giving trust to an American coach,” Klinsmann said. “There are plenty of very, very good American coaches that can coach overseas. Absolutely no doubt about it.”
He said Bradley earned the right to break the coaching barrier.
“He went the tough route, the places where he went after he coached the national team has been impressive,” Klinsmann said. “He didn’t shy away from different cultures, different countries, different languages. He deserves that chance. I hope they give him all the support in the world.”
Bradley took over second-division French team Le Havre in November 2015 and they came within one goal of being promoted to Ligue 1. Before that, he led cash-strapped Norwegian team Stabaek to a spot in the Europa League.
His most challenging job was the one he took after leaving the U.S. national team in July 2011. He led the Egyptian national team during a time of great unrest in the country. In February 2012, a riot at a stadium in Port Said killed 74 people and injured 1,000. The Egyptian league shut down for a year.
Bradley, a Princeton history major intrigued by foreign affairs, didn’t flee. He and his wife remained in central Cairo and immersed themselves in Egyptian culture.
He told the Miami Herald at the time: “My feeling from the moment I took this job was I wanted to do it right. We needed to live in Egypt and be part of life here. I needed to learn what people are like, and become part of their community. When a tragedy like this occurs, it is the responsibility of anyone in a position of leadership to be a good example and pull people tighter together and show what solidarity is all about.”
Despite the turmoil, the Egyptian team breezed through its qualifying group before losing to Ghana.
“At this moment, the opportunity to go to the Premier League — on many levels — is special,” Bradley told reporters Monday. “I’m sorry to leave [Le Havre], especially at this moment, but it’s an opportunity for me, my family and American football that’s important.”
Bradley will have to battle the stigma of being an American coach, and the suggestion he got the job because two of Swansea’s owners, Steve Kaplan and Jason Levien, are American.
Kaplan is the co-chairman of the NBA.’s Memphis Grizzlies, and Levien is general managing partner of D.C. United. Welshman Huw Jenkins is chairman of Swansea, and word is Bradley won him over during interviews.
“He is highly regarded as a coach and has a wealth of experience on the international and domestic front,” said Jenkins. “He is well aware of the club’s footballing philosophy and will provide us with strong leadership qualities and a renewed belief to compete at this level.”