'I have a timeline in my head' - Stephen Bradley opens up on future after Shamrock Rovers decision

Daniel McDonnell

Stephen Bradley says he has a timeline in his head for when he wants to coach in another league but asserted that Shamrock Rovers is the right place for him at this stage of his development.

And in the aftermath of a week where he turned down the chance to take over League One side Lincoln City, the 37-year-old has admitted that his ultimate ambition is to one day manage his country.

The Dubliner is conscious that his decision to spurn the opportunity to move into the English game will attract negative feedback, but recalled how people told him he was doing the wrong thing when he quit playing in his mid twenties and later took over Rovers at a difficult time. He is prepared to trust his own judgment again.

"I have a real hunger and ambition to manage at different levels and in different countries," said Bradley, speaking after the 3-1 win over Finn Harps which capped a 'hectic' couple of days where he lost his grandmother Emily while reaching a seismic decision on his future.

"I have a timeline in my head and it remains in my head but it's definitely something I want to do without a shadow of a doubt. Please God, everything going well, that will happen in the future. It might not, but you make decisions and you live with them.

"I don't live my life or I don't make decisions based on people's opinions, I don't have to justify what I do or think to anyone," continued Bradley. "They are allowed to have an opinion because of the job I'm in, it's out there in the public eye. So I understand everyone has an opinion on it and that's fine with me.

"If I had listened to certain people, I would never have taken this job so young. I would have never retired so young. I understand where I want to go and how I want to get there. I understand and respect that everyone has an opinion on it. That's the way it is. That's football."

When asked if his long-term desire was to follow in the footsteps of Stephen Kenny, Bradley replied: "Why not? I think it's the pinnacle of any manager's career. It's fantastic to see Stephen doing it now, coming from the league. If anyone was offered an Ireland job, you would run there."

For now, though, the focus is on Rovers. Bradley says retaining their title is aim number one but the news the Hoops will be seeded in the first round of the Champions League this summer has built excitement around what might happen in that sphere with regrets still lingering over a loss to Estonian opposition that cost the Tallaght side group stage football via the champions route into the Europa Conference League last term.

Bradley said that discussions across this week convinced him that there's still work to do at Rovers with the various elements of the club rowing in the right direction. He mentioned the club's board and part-owners Dermot Desmond and Ray Wilson who both own 25 percent.

The manager dismissed the suggestion that this week's process was about securing a better contract for himself.

"It was never about the contract situation, that was never the issue for the Lincoln part or here," he said, "It was all about the progression and the next step. It never came down to length of contract or finances, it was nothing about that, it was about what direction we are going and how are we getting there. If it's a new contract down the line, it's a new contract down the line, but it wasn't about that situation

"With Dermot (Desmond), with Ciaran (Medlar, chairman), the board, with Ray (Wilson), it's good to see the thinking is aligned. The structures are there, everything is in place and, as I said, I just think we have more to do here."

Bradley conducted Zoom discussions with Lincoln before a delegation flew over to meet him face to face. He said he made a final decision on his future late on Thursday and informed Lincoln on Friday morning.

"The board had a big part to play in it here," said Bradley, who also referenced the importance of a chat with club captain Ronan Finn.

"They were understanding of the position I was in when Lincoln came in which was good in terms of how it was dealt with. They were really respectful and allowed me to speak to Lincoln. The club always stated that under no circumstance did they want to lose me.

"When I sat down and spoke to them it was a really good conversation and really reaffirmed that I feel we can go and keep improving and striving to be better.

"I think you are flattered. I think it is nice when people recognise that you are doing something right. When you meet them then you understand that they are a good club. We had a really good chat with their owner, their CEO, head of performance and sporting director. They are really good people and they have really good plans.

"It was a good conversation, and it was a really tough decision because they are a really progressive club in how they're doing things. But I'm just clear and happy and comfortable in my own mind. There's more to be done here. Last night (Thursday) I just sat down with the people around me, had a good chat, and I just felt this is where I need to be."

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