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Remembering Gordon Bradley: Kevin Payne

Yesterday, we received the sad news that Gordon Bradley had passed away at the age of 74 years. The Englishman had been involved in soccer in the U.S. in some fashion for the last 35 years and was unquestionably one of the most influential soccer figures in both the U.S. and D.C. area. In the 70's, he served as the head coach for the New York Cosmos during the Pele years and then the Washington Dips when Johan Cruyff was on the team. Following, he served as George Mason Men's Head Soccer coach from 1985-2000 and was also a color commentator for United. He was inducted into the U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame in 1996. 

His impact on U.S. soccer was profound and many have mentioned to us their memories and impressions of a man who was often described as a gentlemen. A few members of the United family have expressed their desire to honor Gordon Bradley. We'll be using Behind the Badge as a forum for those memories.

Our team President & CEO Kevin Payne shares his thoughts: 

I was deeply saddened to learn of Gordon Bradley's passing.  I first met Gordon in the late 80's when I was at the United States Soccer Federation, and from the first time I met him felt like I'd known him forever.  He was one of those people whose love for our game was so strong that it shone through, no matter what the circumstances. 

I can remember talking with Gordon, especially on the road (over a couple cold ones!) early in our first season in 1996, when things were not going quite as we'd planned.  He was so calm and reassuring -- he kept telling me and Bruce that everything was going to be fine, that we had good players, and all they needed was time.  Bruce and I would laugh and hope that Gordon was right -- and, as was so often the case when it came to soccer, he was! 

Gordon used to talk about growing up a "Geordie" in England, and would tell stories about the recruiting techniques the local clubs would use to get players.  He said, "they would call down the mine-shaft -- 'We need a number 4!' -- and the fella who played that position would hop on the lift and head up to the surface."  And then he would laugh at how far he'd come from those days when the choices were spending the day (or night) hacking away at the face of a coal mine, or playing the game he loved, for a pittance. 

Gordon always thought it remarkable that from that beginning he would go on to coach Pele, Franz Beckenbauer, and Johann Cruyff -- arguably the three greatest soccer players ever.  Gordon accomplished many other things in his career, and influenced thousands of people in the game, but that is one accomplishment that no one else can lay claim to. 

Gordon was a lovely man -- a real gentleman in every way -- and he will be greatly missed by the entire soccer family.  My family and I are thinking of Gordon's family and will remember them in our prayers.  

In association with George Mason, the family has created the Gordon Bradley Scholarship Endowment. To contribute, call 703-993-3215. Feel free to share your memories or thoughts about Gordon Bradley in the comments.