This is the latest installment of We Are TFC. Every week, we’ll sit down with one of the Reds and help you get to know them a little bit better, on and off the field. This week, TorontoFC.ca chats with Reds captain Michael Bradley, fresh off the club’s first-ever MLS playoff victory.
Take a look at your phone, what photo to you means the most and why?
BRADLEY: For me, my family is the most important thing in the world. And the time that I’m able to spend with them at home, with all the traveling that I do, with all the craziness in my schedule, there’s nothing better than walking in the door and having our time at home.
Who are your heroes?
BRADLEY: My heroes are my mom and my dad, without a doubt. For the family that they’ve raised. For the way that they have shown my sisters and I, from the time that we are little, what it means to be good people. People that others respect. People who know how to pour your heart and soul into something. People who aren’t afraid to take challenges. They are two of the most unselfish, loving, loyal people that I know. And since I’ve become a father, as much as I’ve always appreciated the example they’ve set, it hits home even more.
Everyone knows about your dad, Bob, who’s now the coach of Swansea City in the English Premier League, but what role did your mom play in your career?
BRADLEY: My mom, when you talk about someone who was willing to do anything in the world for her family, that’s her. From the time that my sisters and I were little, she would drive us anywhere, at any time of day or night, if it meant that we could be at another soccer practice, another dance recital or another tennis lesson. There were plenty of times she could have gone out to dinner with her friends or chosen to do something else, but that’s not her. For her, the time she can spend with my dad, or me and my sisters, that’s what she wanted to do, even if that meant driving the family taxi around. That’s what she loved to do the most.
We understand when you were little she even drove you to some hockey practices.
BRADLEY: Yes, that’s true. I played two or three years of hockey. And like everyone knows, when you’re really young and playing hockey, you’re usually playing really early. When my dad was around, he and I would wake up together. But when my dad wasn’t around, that meant my mom was waking me and my sisters up at 4 in the morning to make sure I got to practice on time.
When you think of Toronto, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?
BRADLEY: What an incredible city it is. It’s hard to put a finger on it, but I’ve never been in a city quite like it. It’s a big city, the fourth largest city in North America, but as much as it feels big, there’s a real sense of community and there’s a real sense of home and of loyalty for the people here. That part is pretty special and unique, as is the diversity. I’ve been lucky to have lived in a lot of different places and traveled to even more, but the pure diversity in Toronto is incredible.
What are your favourite things to do in your spare time?
BRADLEY: Spend time with my family. With how often I have to be gone, for me there’s nothing better than spending time with my wife, my son and my daughter. As my children start to get a little older, the chance to go to my son’s soccer practices, to watch them at their swimming lessons, to drop them off or pick them off at school and see the smiles on their faces when they get to have mommy and daddy around, there’s nothing better.
Who’s the funniest guy on the team?
BRADLEY: There’s no shortage in our lockerroom. We enjoy each other’s company. So that part is pretty special. Who’s the funniest? A lot of candidates, but I’ll go with Jay Chapman.
When the team took a poll, you were voted most serious. Accurate?
BRADLEY: Yeah, look, there’s no doubt in certain moments, when it comes to working and training and competing, it’s serious for me. But in anything you do, the ability to enjoy yourself, to be able to laugh at times and be able to laugh at yourself, to enjoy what you do every day, that’s important too. I’m lucky. I’m serious and committed and determined every day to improve myself as a player, and to try to help the team become better, but I love it. I enjoy every second. I wake up every morning and I can honestly say I look forward to spending time with every single person in this club. So, sure there are moments, like, if my team loses in training, I’m not the happiest guy. But inside the lockerroom, when we start spinning the wheel to see who’s going to get fined on Thursday mornings, I’m usually one of the guys who’s right in the middle of that.
Do you have a favourite player?
BRADLEY: Right now, a guy I really enjoy watching closely is Xabi Alonso (of Bayern Munich). He’s a guy who plays in my part of the field, deep in the midfield. It’s always interesting to me because, in today’s game, where people are so quick and eager to label midfielders. Is he a Number 6? Is he a Number 8 or a Number 10? I don’t know exactly what you’d call him, but he’s a midfielder who makes a big difference on every single team he plays on. And he’s a guy who in his area of the field, in front of the defenders, he protects things, comes away with interceptions and tackles, puts out fires, who also ability with the ball to help his team find rhythm, to make sure the right guys have the ball in the right moments. I watch him very closely. And the way he continues, even as he gets older, he gets better and has an impact on really good teams.
Have you ever thought about what you’d be doing if you weren’t a soccer player?
BRADLEY: Umm, no I have not
Do you have a favourite moment with TFC?
BRADLEY: That’s an easy one. Last night, when we beat Philadelphia (for TFC’s first ever playoff win). In the days leading into the game, I was asked a lot about big games, and for all the people who wanted to rip me for coming back to play in MLS, last night felt to me like one of the biggest games I’ve played in my career. I’ve been here almost three years, we’ve made good progress, but we needed to take the next step. And we don’t take that next step without winning last night.
It was a must win. Lose and the season is over.
BRADLEY: That’s it. The reality of MLS is even if you make good , steady progress, if you don’t win in those big moments, nobody remembers any of the other stuff. In a one-off game, with so much on the line, I could not have been more proud of the way every single guy on the field came through and spilled their guts. It certainly wasn’t the best game football-wise we’ve played all year, but that’s not what the night was about. It was about having 11 guys who were ready to compete, to come away with tackles and loose balls, and embrace that part of it. And we did.
What was it like to share the victory with the supporters?
BRADLEY: In the end, to give the people a little bit of a feeling of what it should feel like when they have a team on the field that can get results that make them proud, that’s special. And it’s just a start. We want to give them many more nights like that. And we will be excited to try and do it again on Sunday.