Australia & Europe conquered, the 'Coach Whisperer' wants global football glory
Back in 2014, Bradley Charles Stubbs – aka the ‘Coach Whisperer’ – decided he needed to get some high-profile professional sporting clients onto his resume.
Having already succeeded at a number of lower levels, Stubbs wanted some prominent notches on his belt to underline just how effective his coaching programmes can be.
Just three years later, Stubbs has been acknowledged as a key factor in Sydney FC’s record-shattering A-League season, while he also contributed to the success enjoyed by the England and Australian rugby union teams.
It doesn’t matter if it’s sport, business, whatever. I can do it with anyone. I can get anyone to win
Prior to that he helped Australian rugby league club South Sydney, which is co-owned by Oscar-winning actor Russell Crowe, break a 41-year premiership drought.
Now, the 56-year-old Australian has his sights set on some even bigger targets – namely the English Premier League and the FIFA World Cup.
Shooting to prominence earlier this year when Sydney FC’s Graham Arnold thanked Stubbs after he won the A-League’s coach of the year award, the Queensland-based mentor granted FourFourTwo a rare interview, where he gave an insight into his unique approach.
“I’ve been fine-tuning my craft over 35 years,” Stubbs explains when FFT asks him how this all began.
“I’ve got a programme called ‘Expect To Win’ and within that is a programme called ‘the science of belief’.
“There is a science behind belief, the way that humans actually encase the information and what it does within the brain.
“It’s about getting the best possible performance out of that human. “It doesn’t matter if it’s sport, business, whatever. I can do it with anyone. I can get anyone to win.
“But when you win, that’s when the hard work really starts.”
At one stage Stubbs stood on a chair and declared Souths would be the 2014 National Rugby League champions
Stubbs says it’s all-too common for people to get accustomed to the praise that comes their way for attaining success, leading them to slip-up mentally and relinquish that one per cent that had given them an edge.
Stubbs had enjoyed success with people from a whole variety of pursuits – from professional surfers to MMA fighters, account managers, go-kart drivers and company chief executives – when he reached out to South Sydney coach Michael Maguire in January 2014.
Stubbs is a huge supporter of the Rabbitohs, as the club is known, and convinced Maguire to come on board. At one stage in their initial meeting Stubbs stood on a chair in the coach’s office and declared Souths would be the 2014 National Rugby League champions.
The Rabbitohs are the most successful side in the domestic competition, with 21 top-tier premierships, but in 2014 they were experiencing a four-decade title drought.
That is, until Stubbs came along.
“Hardly anyone knew I was working with him,” Stubbs explains. “The second time I met Michael was in the change rooms after they won the grand final.
“I’d just been sending him my programmes and he would book me in and talk to me over the phone.
I don’t know why someone can’t wait a couple of weeks when you’ve won everything and then have as much to drink as you want
“We won the 2014 grand final, we won the Nines tournament and then we won the World Club Challenge (against the reigning English champions) 39-0.”
For those that aren’t too familiar with rugby league, a 39-0 scoreline is akin to a 5-0 thrashing in football.
Next up he began working with Australian rugby union head coach Michael Cheika, who guided the team into the 2015 World Cup final, losing to the dominant New Zealand side.
While that Wallabies side had an impressive run, Stubbs knew the Australian team wasn’t entirely focused following two crucial victories to end the group stage.
“I saw on social media after we beat Wales and England some players walking around drinking red wine. And we’re at a World Cup,” he said.
“If you want to create history, you need to sacrifice. I don’t know why someone can’t wait a couple of weeks when you’ve won everything and then have as much to drink as you want.”
After helping Eddie Jones, the Australian who is enjoying record-setting results in English rugby, Stubbs then linked up with Graham Arnold at Sydney FC.
The result was a campaign that featured 20 wins, six draws and just one defeat and an all-time record points haul as the Sky Blues won both the regular-season premiership and the grand final.
When FFT began our conversation with Stubbs and asked how he was, he says he’s “all good, just getting over the achievement working with Graham Arnold.
“Unfortunately we lost one game, so there’s still room for improvement.”
When FFT chuckled at what we assumed was a joke, Stubbs replies: “What are you laughing at? I put programmes in place for people to go undefeated.”
And it’s clear he’s being quite serious. He has that much faith in his programmes, which are obviously getting impressive results.
A big part of Stubbs’ approach is to watch the messages coaches convey to the media and the opposition in press conferences, an area where Arnold shifted noticeably last season.
Now armed with his first major accomplishment in the world game, Stubbs is dreaming of even bigger targets.
“Now I’m looking for a coach that wants to win the World Cup,” he declared. “I’d like it to be with the Socceroos, but I don’t care if it’s China or whoever. It doesn’t matter.
(I'd like to) go work with one of those crazy coaches in the English Premier League. Work with them and win everything
“I’ve only ever used 20-25 per cent of my programmes with any coach. That’s all that’s needed.
“Someone will come to me and say ‘hey Bradley, I just saw the article with FourFourTwo.
“You want to win a World Cup. You know what? So do we’.
“The other thing is to go work with one of those crazy coaches in the English Premier League. Work with them and win everything.
“I’ve had results with nine-year-old’s that drive go-karts, 15-year-old boxers, all different types.
“Nobody else is doing what I do. My programmes work. It’s all about what the mind believes you can achieve.”