Former Institute man Joe Bradley returned home to watch his old club over the Christmas period.
Bradley, who founded Massachusetts Premier Soccer in 2001 along with his brother Peter and since then his now titled Global Premier Soccer in America has gone from strength to strength.
Only recently Global Premier Soccer joined forces with Champions League winners Bayern Munich and that link-up, which came about because of sportswear giants Adidas, really excites Bradley.
“The model at Bayern is through the roof. Everything from the youth level to the academy and the quality of infrastructure they have to their financial discipline is unreal,” he said.
“If you look at the Bundesliga as a whole business model and then look at Bayern directly compared to a Real Madrid or a Barcelona or a Manchester United, they are unreal.
“We were fortunate that Bayern decided that America would be part of their global plan and we had just come to an end of a partnership with Serie A side AS Roma.
“They had signed a 10 year deal with Nike and we always had been very, very strong relationship with Adidas and really the Bayern deal came through Adidas.
“They said that Bayern were looking for an appropriate partner in the US and Adidas made the introduction and over the last 10 months we negotiated in good faith and thankfully we got a deal sorted out.
“The level of interaction Bayern a club has given us at a footballing level has been world class.
“Both Wolfgang Dremmler a former German international, who is Head of FC Bayern Munich Youth Academy and Michael Tarnat, who used to play for Bayern and Manchester City, is now a scout for Bayern, they were all super with us.”
Bradley has been in the States for nearly two decades, has got married and has two beautiful daughters and he believes the beautiful game is really starting to kick-off.
“From when I first showed up in America even I have seen that it’s like a different country in footballing terms,” he added.
“Support and the media coverage in America during the World Cup in particular was phenomenal, everyone is really starting to stand up and take notice of the game.
“Yes at the same time I’m very pleased and selfless at what’s going on in America, but don’t get me wrong I still know that we have a lot to do, but we are very pleased with what we have achieved up until this point.
“I just got an America passport last year so yeah I’m really enjoying my life in America, I’m married now with two young girls Michaela and Ciara who are four and seven years old and they are into their football as much as they can be.
“In fact my wife Suzanne was a footballer in college too, so football is certainly a big part of our lives.
“I’m obviously well settled in Boston and definitely very appreciative of the opportunity that I had and have earned.”
To his credit the ex-Derry City starlet continues to keep an eye on things back in his home town and he’s also delighted that his good friend Michael O’Neill is doing well with the international team.
In fact last year Bradley returned with a team to take part in the world famous Milk Cup.
“I played I think 33 times for Coleraine when I was in upper sixth at St Columb’s College, then at that end of that period of time there was no opportunity to go to England in terms of continuing my footballing career, but I was fortunate enough to get a soccer scholarship in the US and the rest is history.
“After College in 2001 me and my brother Peter launched what was then Global Premier Soccer and we have gone from strength to strength.
“I would still call Northern Ireland as home and I still very much like to stay in touch with Northern Irish football and we brought a team back for the Milk Cup last summer, which we were delighted to do and it also maintains a connection which was a really important tournament for me when I was growing up.
“I was pleased with how our team performed in the tournament and it gave me the opportunity to go back to Coleraine Showgrounds and catch up with people like Victor Hunter.
“Then coming from Derry and playing for both Derry City Reserves as a young player and then Institute on a few times when I returned to the city and Paul Kee I would regard as a very good friend and a good mentor during my early coaching career and I stay in good contact with him and I obviously keep an eye on Stute’s results.
“I’m also delighted to see the full national team doing great under Michael O’Neill, he’s another good friend and he’s coming to America in January, so it will be nice to catch up with him again.”