Shamrock Rovers manager Stephen Bradley has spoken of his gratitude for the messages of support he has received from his rivals in the Irish football community after news of his son’s illness was made public.
Bradley’s eight year old is in hospital battling illness after a diagnosis indicated he required treatment and the Hoops boss has admitted he may miss more games in the coming weeks as a consequence with his family situation taking precedence.
He was absent from their game in Dundalk eight days ago on account of his son’s situation but was present on the sideline for last night’s win over Bohemians before returning to hospital to sleep overnight.
At full time, Bradley shared a warm embrace with the coaching staff from the losing side.
He hasn’t always seen eye to eye with Bohs boss Keith Long but the Gypsies staff were in touch with Bradley on the eve of the game – there was also a round of applause from the Tallaght crowd in the eighth minute and the Rovers supremo admitted that he has been touched by the collective response.
“It made me really emotional. I can’t thank them enough, each and every person here that did that for me and for my family,” said Bradley, with regard to the ovation.
“My little boy is in the hospital watching that match, he will know that’s for him and that’s a special moment and something that will live with him and with me forever. Massive, massive thank you to everyone.”
Those feelings extended to his opposite number.
“Keith texted me yesterday, and so did Trevor (Croly – his assistant), and so did 99 per cent of the league," he said.
"Rivalries don’t matter when it’s something so personal like that. The support we have had as a family is fantastic, from everyone around the league and everyone connected to football around the country. I can’t thank them enough.
"There’s nothing better than telling the little fella that X Y and Z has sent you a message or a video, and see a little smile on his face,” continued Bradley, who said his son was able to watch a hard fought 1-0 win for Rovers on TV.
“He has a telly in his room, and he said if we didn’t win I couldn’t go back and sleep in the hospital, so I know where I’m sleeping tonight. I am delighted for him.”
Rovers are entering into a busy period with their European campaign kicking off in ten days time and Bradley knows he will have to lean on his staff at times.
“We are a tight group,” he said. “There may be times if he is not well that I won’t be here, but I trust Glenn (Cronin) and Stephen (McPhail) with my life.
"I know they will be fine and we may need that over the next few weeks or few months.”
Long borrowed a line from Jurgen Klopp in sending his best wishes to his counterpart.
“Football in our world is the most important of the unimportant things. I think it was Jurgen Klopp quoted as saying that,” he said.
“Really it puts it into perspective when Stephen is experiencing the difficulties and challenges that he is right at this moment, and our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family and his young son.
"It is only right, correct and proper that we stand (with him). We are rivals on the pitch, we’ve had our moments, myself and Stephen, but the human aspect is that nobody wants to see a young child ill. It doesn’t seem right.
"Our thoughts and prayers from everybody within our club are with Stephen and his family at this time, that’s for sure. Life is bigger than football.”