‘It’s important that when you’re asked, you’re not afraid to stand up for what you believe in.’

Toronto FC’s Michael Bradley talks leadership on Footy Talks Live.

When he finally steps out to play in the upcoming MLS Is Back Tournament in Orlando, Toronto FC’s Michael Bradley will have been out of top flight action for almost 8 months.

But what was supposed to be a quiet period of convalescence outside of the limelight, turned into an even more public role for the club captain – as he spoke out publically to lend his voice to important social issues.

On yesterday’s Footy Talks Live, Luke, KJ and Stevie asked Bradley about the importance of speaking out and speaking up: 

‘I have strong opinions. I try to read and listen and watch, and educate myself. Not just on football, but on things that are going on in the world, because I think the more knowledge that you have […] your ability to have real conversations with different people is that much greater.’ 

‘I’m not huge on social media […] but I do think it’s important that when you’re asked, that you’re not afraid to stand up for what you believe in, and give your opinion. To speak in a strong, proud way – to represent who you are, and in certain moments to represent a group of people that stand behind you. Whether it’s your family, the team or the club. I think that part is really important.’

‘When you look at everything that has gone on in the world over the last five or six months I think we need more real conversations, we need more people who are strong and educated, and who are able to look at things through different lenses, and find perspectives different from their own. We need stronger leaders in every way, and at every level, if we want to change some of the things that have frustrated all of our lives over this last period.’

With TSN today airing coverage of Greg Vanney’s very first game in charge of the club, KJ asked Bradley about the his own six years at TFC, and in particular about the transformation in culture the side has witnessed during that time:  

‘It’s the thing that I’m most proud of. There are, and there have been, so many good people who have been a part of it. When I came I understood how amazing the potential was. A club that had an incredible fan base, real relevance in a big city – a big sports city; relevance with the people but also relevance in the media; a brand new training ground, a stadium with a perfect location – it had everything.’ 

‘We just needed to find a way to connect a few dots. When you’re trying to build something real, and that can stand up over the course of time, you’re never going to get it perfect right away. You have to live some of those difficult moments early on to figure out who’s going to be here, who’s going to move on. In sports this is just how things go.’

‘The potential for me always was just incredible, and over these last five or six months watching some of these different games back on TSN, whether it’s play off games from any of these year, champions league games, derbys against Montreal. We’ve had so many incredible, special nights at BMO field where I get in my car afterwards, and as I’m driving home on the Gardener and you look over and see the empty stadium with the lights still on, it’s like – man, what a night – again.’ 

‘So I hope that along the way there have been a few people who walked out of that stadium feeling the same way, because that ultimately is why we all do what we do.’

Check out the full interview now!

Featured image by Tagwa Moyo / Waking The Red

Edwin Tubb