Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By DAN KARELL
One of the feel good stories in the world of soccer has been the performances of the Egyptian National Team since former U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Bob Bradley took the job in 2011.
As he approaches two full years in charge of the Egypt squad, Bradley has guided them to an undefeated eight-game run since March and a place in the final round of African World Cup qualifying; a two-legged series against Ghana for a place in the 2014 World Cup that begins on October 15 in Kumasi, Ghana.
Through political and social unrest, with the domestic league currently suspended indefinitely, Bradley has captivated the nation and given them hope that they can make their first World Cup finals since 1990. It something that makes Bradley’s son Michael very proud of his father.
“(I’m) incredibly proud. Incredibly proud of him, of my mother who’s there with him, and their commitment to finish what he started,” Michael Bradley told the BBC World Service. “He went there with the idea, with the dream of taking Egypt to the World Cup, and in the midst of all the instability in their country, revolution, massacres, and so much trouble in their country, they have managed to keep a group of guys focused and committed on really “the dream” of the entire country.
“And I think it’s in these ways and these moments that we’re all able to see how powerful football is. In a country like that with so much turmoil, maybe the only thing the Egyptians can agree on is their love and support for the national team and how the dream is to see them back in a World Cup.”
The younger Bradley, who is currently rehabbing an ankle injury suffered in Costa Rica and will miss the USMNT’s final two World Cup qualifiers, also spoke to the BBC about the success of his club team, AS Roma.
After seven matches in the young Serie A season, Roma hold a perfect record and are off to their best start in club history. This past summer, the team sold off some of their high profile players such as Pablo Osvaldo, Erik Lamela, and Marquinhos for big money, while using their scouting network to make shrewd signings such as Kevin Strootman and Medhi Benatia, both of whom have been stellar to start off the season.
The 26-year-old midfielder gave credit to everyone inside the club including head coach Rudi Garcia, who has surprised everyone with the team’s success, as well as acknowledging the motivation that comes with a demoralizing Coppa Italia Final defeat to arch-rival Lazio.
“I think the club did very well in the summer to assess the situation, to decide which players were needed here and to decide which players had value in the transfer market,” Bradley said. “They really did a good job of now finding the right coach, allowing him the chance to work with players who he wanted, and so far this season what you’re seeing is the fruit of all that work.”
Bradley also touched on Roma forward and legend Francesco Totti, who is in some of the best form of his career with three goals and six assists already. The 37-year-old Totti is even receiving requests from fans and the media in Italy to be recalled to the Italian National Team.
“He’s the symbol for this club, he’s the symbol for every Roman, every fan,” Bradley said. “For every person who’s grown up in this city who’s dreamed of playing professional football, he’s the idol, the symbol, the example. He obviously grew up in Rome, he’s never left, he’s won the Scudetto, he’s won Italian cups.
“And really more than anything what people here have so much respect for him about is his loyalty. Through a career where he’s really one of the best players in the world, with the opportunity to go to the biggest clubs (such as) Real Madrid, he always chose to stay loyal to this city, to these colors, to his club, and so in those ways he’s somebody who is a legend.”
With his current injury, Bradley will stay in Rome to continue his rehab, where he’ll be able to keep an eye on both the USA and Egypt’s matches from home. Bradley revealed that if Egypt had been hosting the first leg against Ghana, he would have gone to the match.
“If the first game were in Cairo I’d be there for sure,” Bradley said. “I’ll be watching and cheering like every other Egyptian that day.”