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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Another Great Club Interview: David Bardsley


In the second of our exclusive past player interviews on www.qpr.co.uk, former R's defender David Bardsley comes under the spotlight.

David Bardsley (1989-1998)

When we caught up with David Bardsley the other day, we expected him to be lapping up the Florida sunshine. However things weren't quite going to plan.

"It's really wet here," he moaned down the phone. "It just hasn't stopped raining all day!"

But despite the occasional blip with the weather, 43 year-old Bardsley is really enjoying life in America, and he relishes his job as Head Coach with Orlando FC in the United Soccer Leagues.

"I've been out in the States since 2004," said Bardsley. "I moved over to work in an Academy programme backed by Ajax of Amsterdam. A lot of money has been spent on the development of young players.

"Up until four months ago, I was the Academy Director of 'Ajax America.' We have the main base here in Florida and soccer camps running all over the USA so it's quite an amazing adventure. My work also involved travelling to Amsterdam to study the training techniques over there, which are very interesting.

"I was keen to get into coaching when I retired from playing and I know a lot more about the game now than I ever did before. Coaching is totally different to what I imagined as a player. So I have been very fortunate to work here and it has been a very good education for me.

"My role actually changed a few months ago. We have transitioned away from Ajax as they wanted to concentrate on their own projects.

"So we now have new backers in the USA and I have taken over the programme as head coach. We have reverted to the Soccer Academy's original name of Orlando FC.

"I would like to officially link our set-up with a Club in England in the near future. My ultimate aim would be a connection with one of my former teams. A relationship like that would be beneficial for everyone."

Looking back on his illustrious playing career, Bardsley was a classy right-back who signed for Rangers from Oxford United for £375,000 in September 1989. He played 253 times for the R's scoring four goals, with most of his appearances coming at the very highest level. He also won two full England caps under Graham Taylor in 1993.

Bardsley said: "It was a big move for me when I signed for QPR as they were a strong Club in the top-flight at the time. It was a bit difficult for me to break into the team to begin with.

"But once the Premier League was launched in 1992, I started to establish myself a little bit and in the end, I enjoyed my spell with the R's more than at any other Club I played for.

"We had one of the best sides in the early years of the Premiership. We regularly finished as top London Club and we would often beat the biggest teams in the land.

"I had fantastic times at Rangers, with fantastic players around me and fantastic people to work for. They were all great memories.

"It was lovely to get on the score sheet now and again. I always remember my free-kick goal against Southampton and my diving header versus Leeds United. But I was just delighted to be part of the Club. That's what playing football is all about.

"Simply running out onto the field in the Premier League was a great pleasure and one could argue, looking back, that our fans were really spoilt in those days because the team was so good."

Combining in dynamic fashion with Andrew Impey down the right, Bardsley was a master of the overlap. He also teamed up with Alan McDonald in the practical joke stakes, boosting the camaraderie in the squad.

"Me and Macca used to room together on away trips and we had our fun with the squad off the field. But once we crossed that white line, we were deadly serious on the pitch.

"I have to say, I played for a few Clubs and my team mates were always great everywhere I went - but the spirit we had at QPR was really special.

"I don't think there was anyone at Rangers who thought they were a star and that was why we all gelled so well together. Yes, we had some hugely renowned players like Ray Wilkins and Les Ferdinand. But I still don't think there was any one person who thought they were better than anyone else.

"Opposing Clubs didn't know what to expect from us. A lot of our lads had come up from the lower leagues. Then we found out that we were able to compete with some of the best teams in England, possibly in the world. Our secret was we that had good players in all positions and there were no big time Charlie's."

Bardsley had nine splendid years at Rangers before being released at the end of the 1997/98 season. He finished his playing career with Blackpool and Northwich Victoria before moving into coaching.

Despite currently living and working in America, 'Bards' still looks out for all the Super Hoops' results and he hopes the Club can have a successful future.

"My children are staunch QPR supporters and my eldest son Christian has trained with the R's. We all adore the Club and follow what is going on from afar.

"I brought a group of lads from Orlando over to Loftus Road for the Luton FA Cup tie last season and everyone was very friendly towards us. It was marvellous for me to go back to Rangers as it is still the best Club for me and always will be.

"I would love to see the great football from the early 1990's return to QPR. The magnificent R's supporters would certainly deserve that and there is a real chance of improved fortunes now that the new owners are taking charge. But a lot of hard work is needed before those glory days can return." QPR

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