Part of the Family: Bradley in Verona
One of the first things you notice when visiting the well-appointed Chievo Verona training facility nestled amongst vineyards outside the city is the warm and friendly relationship that the people in the club share, from the players and coaches to the front office and all the staff. For a team with a short history in the Serie A, they have already established a great tradition, as well as a reputation for grooming players for moves onto bigger clubs.
What was also clear is that Michael Bradley is already a big part of the family.
His legendary commitment to his craft can be seen as much in his quick adaptation to the tactically sophisticated league as in his quick comprehension of the Italian language. Both are appreciated by teammates, media and fans.
“Coming to part of Southern Europe where not much English is spoken, my wife and I felt like it would be important to understand the language so we could appreciate the experience more,” Bradley told ussoccer.com. “Italian is spoken on the field and in the locker room, so it has helped with the transition.”
Chievo Verona are currently in ninth place in Serie A, and two more victories in the remaining 12 games would virtually ensure their place in the league for next season, no small accomplishment for the club. Bradley has been a force in the midfield, starting every game for which he has been available. He’s been called "the American General," and earned man of the match honors against Genoa.
For Bradley, playing in Italy is the realization of a lifelong ambition that began as he grew up watching the great teams of AC Milan in the early 1990s, particularly admiring the play of legendary midfielder Demetrio Albertini.
“To be in a country where they respect this position and how it fits in with the rest of the team is something that I appreciate,” continued Bradley. “This is by far the most soccer crazy country that I have been in. There are three papers every day that just cover soccer, and it’s all about the game - players, tactics, performances, even the referee assignments.”
As he continues to make a name for himself, the game against Italy comes at a perfect time for the U.S. team.
"Obviously, for me, it's something special," he said. "I play against a lot of these guys every week. To be able to play against them in an international game and give a good account of our team, it's a great opportunity."