'It is a one off game and 11 versus 11 so anything can happen' - Stephen Bradley on AC Milan's visit to Tallaght

Tue, Sep 01 2020

Zlatan Ibrahimovic's Milan are coming to Tallaght in mid-September Credit: Al Robinson (ETPhotos)

Macdara Ferris reports from Tallaght Stadium

So a decade on from Shamrock Rovers’ last Europa League qualifier against a giant of Italian football in Tallaght Stadium, in place of Juventus this time it will be AC Milan who will travel to Tallaght to take on the Hoops.

Back in 2010, it was a two legged affair with the Hoops losing the first leg 2-0 and 1-0 away to Juve. In that second leg, only an Alessandro Del Piero stunning freekick separated the sides. That ball flew over the head of Stephen Bradley who was in the Rovers wall that night.

On 17 September, Bradley as Rovers’ Head Coach will pit his managerial wits against Stefano Pioli’s AC Milan side and a team that includes Zlatan Ibrahimovic who, on the day of the draw, announced a year extension on his contract with the seven times European Cup winners.

Speaking to extratime.com after Rovers 2-1 FAI Cup win over Cork City on Monday evening, Bradley said being drawn against Milan is “really exciting.”

“These are the nights why you are in football. A game against AC Milan does not come around very often so it is one that we are really looking forward to. We will put our best foot forward on the night.

“We will make sure we are ready for it and it will be fantastic. The disappointing thing is that there won’t be 7,500 here to witness it for obvious reasons.”

Ahead of the draw the Hoops knew it was a one in three shot at Milan, with their other potential opponents being Fehervar FC from Hungary (who knocked out Bohs on penalties last week) or FK Zalgiris Vilnius from Lithuania.

“We would have rather have been drawn against the other two teams as we would fancy our chances against them but it is a one of game and 11 versus 11 so anything can happen. 

“It is fantastic to look back on that game (against Juventus in 2010). We approached those games with no fear and we went out and played. That will be the case when Milan come here in a couple of weeks. We will play with no fear and we will put a game plan in place to go and get something out of the game. It is a free hit for us.”

Defender Danny Lafferty, who scored both goals in Rovers second round cup win over Cork City, was watching the draw at home ahead of Monday’s cup tie. “I’m not too sure how to feel about it as it is a marque game but ideally we would have liked one of the other teams to increase our chances of going through realistically. 

“It will be a great occasion but a shame that there won’t be fans here so it won’t have the same feel or the same buzz about the match. It is AC Milan coming to down though so we won’t need any more motivation for the match.”