On the bitterly cold night of Thursday 11th February, Italy legend Gianluca Vialli visited Bradford for the 4th time in his glittering career. Though he never played at the Coral Windows Stadium, Vialli came here three times as manager – first of Chelsea (in 1999-2000) and later Watford (2001-02). Sadly for him (but better for City), those visits were tough – one draw and two losses to the mighty Bantams – but Thursday’s visit was an altogether more positive one – as he was there to help launch #UpgradeTheParade, the latest campaign from Tifosy.
It was a packed programme, starting with a meeting with James Mason and one of the club’s major sponsors, followed by rapid-fire interviews with Radio 4, BBC Radio Leeds, Sky and Bradford’s own Telegraph & Argus. Then it was up to the 2013 suite to mingle with invited guests, where Vialli exchanged stories with Bantams club captain Stephen Darby, and heard all about the changing rooms which are in such dire need of renovation. Then it was down to the Hendrie Suite for the main event – a full presentation of the #UpgradeTheParade campaign.
James Mason kicked off the event, and the details were explained by the Tifosy team and Carl and Adam from BCAFC Supporters Board, before a major highlight of the evening as the Friends of Bradford City presented a cheque for £15,000 – the result of their fantastic fundraising efforts.
Gianluca took the stage, and talked about his memories of visiting Valley Parade in the late ninetines and early two-thousands. He recalled with some regret the goals from Windass and his good friend Carbone which consigned Chelsea to a 2-0 defeat and directly contributed to him getting the sack a few games later, and talked of his favourite English player, Wayne Rooney – praising his workrate and attitude in addition to his goalscoring prowess. Vialli commented that England should be a team to fear at the Euros this year with the strikeforce capability they have in Kane, Rooney and Vardy – but went on to add that he felt England struggle in the high pressure of international competition because they are not used to dealing with heavy pressure, like Italian players are.
Before he left, Gianluca took a few moments to congratulate Bradford City on their sustainable approach to running a football club and their efforts to make it affordable for all fans to watch the games live. He praised the team from Friends of Bradford City for their fundraising, and wished everyone the biggest success with the UpgradeTheParade campaign. “I look forward to coming back to visit,” he said, “when the fantastic new screen is in place and I can visit the players in their lovely new dressing rooms”.