Where are they now? This week, former Blackburn Rovers starlet David Bradford

SEVERAL years before Trevor Francis actually achieved the feat, the then Blackburn Rovers boss Ken Furphy forecast that David Bradford would become England's "first £1 million footballer".

As things turned out, when Furphy moved to Sheffield United in December 1973 he returned to Ewood around six months later to take his protege to Bramall Lane - for a mere £10,000.

Headline-making stuff at the time maybe but Bradford, a bubbly character, looks back with a smile on a fascinating period in an intriguing career.

How else could you describe it for a man who once had Johan Cruyff for a room-mate and played for Brian Kidd when he was a rookie boss in non-League football.

And, even though he celebrated his 46th birthday last month, the former midfield star is still playing.

Involvement rather closer to the grassroots of the game than in his professional globe-trotting days still gets him out and about from the post office he has run at Brownhill for just over a decade.

"It's the longest I've ever been anywhere," he laughed when talking about his current profession. "Probably because there isn't a manager here to move me on.

"I still play for Old Blacks fourth team now and again, and then there's the Rovers Vets.

"In fact there's a game coming up soon against Burnley.

"And I also help to run the Langho under-16 team." Manchester-born Bradford signed full professional forms at Ewood in August 1971, after serving his apprenticeship. A year later he was making his first-team debut at the age of 18.

In all, he started 67 senior League and cup games for the club, making six more appearances as a substitute, and scored three goals.

But he still recalls that "£1-million" tag given him by his mentor Furphy, who was able to snap him up for Sheffield United after Gordon Lee had moved in at Ewood with a determination to transform the club.

A bright and busy player in his Ewood days, he retains similar characteristics today and chuckled: "Yes, I remember him saying it, it was downhill all the way for me after that!"

"I think I started believing it.

"It was after a game against Bradford City. I couldn't really forget it but I did forget one thing that day - to take my boots.

"My dad had to bring them for me!"

His move to Sheffield brought top-flight football and was the start of a real adventure.

When soccer was really big in America, David Bradford was at the heart of it - thanks again to Furphy who was then in charge of Detroit Express.

Various spells were enjoyed with Detroit, Washington, Tulsa and Seattle and I do mean enjoyed.

"In one team our forward line consisted of Trevor Francis, Alan Brazil and Mark Hateley," he said.

"It was just a pleasure to play over there.

"At Washington I roomed with Johan Cruyff. His knowledge of the game was just brilliant. "We also went on a tour and needed a big name to draw the crowds so George Best was signed on for it.

"But George disappeared before the final leg when we were to play two games in Saudi, I don't think he fancied it.

"Instead we got Bobby Moore.

"I was very lucky, I almost went to Bournemouth after leaving West Brom but got the chance to go to America instead.

"Otherwise I would never have had the chance to play with players like that."

David, who still takes a keen interest in Rovers' fortunes and visits Ewood from time to time, was also delighted when Brian Kidd was appointed manager.

He is convinced they have found the right man to change the club's fortunes, given time.

"When I came back from America, I went to Blackpool for a month but it didn't really work out and 'Kiddo' offered me a chance to play at Barrow," he explained.

"We weren't doing very well but he was brilliant. He's one of the best people you could ever wish to meet and he must be superb to play for. "I was really pleased when he got the Rovers job and I'm sure he will do well for them.

"That first game against Charlton after he was appointed, I was fascinated just watching him on the touchline more than I was watching the game."

Unlike with some ex-professionals you don't sense a trace of cynicism in David Bradford.

Indeed, he seems more than happy with his lot and still enjoys the game on which he stamped his mark - even if it was not exactly in the way that Ken Furphy originally imagined.

Converted for the new archive on 14 July 2000. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.