Lee Bradbury found his way into professional football after being an army recruit so understands about the other side of life.
Many footballers these days get criticised for not having worked a day in their life and getting too much money. But Bradbury is someone that will surely make the players of whatever clubs he manages to appreciate what they have. He currently manages Havant & Waterlooville and has just led them to promotion to the National League.
Bradbury started his playing career at Portsmouth but he first made an impact on loan at Exeter City, where he scored five league goals in 14 games in 1995. On his return to his parent club he did start getting more opportunities and really showed his potential during the 1996-97 season which led to him being linked with big money moves away. In July 1997, after 54 games for Portsmouth, Bradbury joined Manchester City for £3 million.
However, it was a tough time for the club as they suffered relegation at the end of the 1997-98 season but the striker did manage to score six times. Just three months into the following campaign he was on the move again, this time to Crystal Palace for £1.5 million. He only lasted 32 league games and was on the move once more, returning to first club Portsmouth.
His career started to recover and he played over 100 times in his second spell but as the team pushed for the First Division title in the 2002-03 season he was finding game time harder to come by and was sent out on loan to Sheffield Wednesday. During this spell he scored three times in 11 games showing that he can still have an impact. But he couldn’t force his way back in to the Portsmouth side and another loan spell to Derby County followed. He didn’t manage to score for Derby.
In 2004, Bradbury joined Walsall and scored just one goal for them, coming against the team he failed to score for Derby. He never really settled at Walsall and was on the move again. Oxford United was his next destination, where he scored nine times in 63 league games. He stayed until January 2006 and moved onto Southend United.
He only stayed for one full season before making the final move of his career, joining Bournemouth. As he was now coming towards the end of his career he started having different roles, not only off the pitch but on it too, and switched position from striker to right back to cover for injuries. His performances were that good that he became first choice in that position until the club signed Stephen Purches. After playing over 100 times for the club he decided to retire in 2011 after being named caretaker manager of Bournemouth after the departure of Eddie Howe.
Bournemouth reached the playoffs in his first season but they were unfortunately beaten by Huddersfield and after a poor run of form in the following campaign, Bradbury was sacked. He has since been manager of Havant & Waterlooville since October 2012.
The final word can go to Bournemouth chairman Eddie Mitchell. “For me it was a no brainer. Lee has progressed well, signed good players and brought in an experienced assistant. It helps bring stability to the club and that’s what we want to do.”