Who said miracles don’t happen? Certainly not the exiled spiritual head of Buddhist Tibet.
Last summer fans’ group Friends of Bradford City presented the 14th Dalai Lama, Tensin Gyatso, with a personalised claret and amber City shirt and made him their honorary president.
Since that June day City have shot up the Division Two table, reached the quarter- final of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy and defeated three Premier League clubs in the Capital One Cup – winning four penalty shoot-outs in the process.
Now, of course, City are heading for a Wembley final against Premier League Swansea and a place in next season’s Europa Cup.
The Dalai Lama received his shirt at the Yorkshire International Business Forum in Leeds. He was also given a copy of Dave Pendleton’s book Glorious 1911, about City’s FA Cup Final victory in Manchester more than a century ago.
Now the Dalai Lama has sent City his best wishes for the Wembley match on Saturday, February 24.
The message comes in a short letter from the London-based Office of Tibet signed by his representative. It reads:- “On behalf of His Holiness The Dalai Lama, may I offer you, and indeed the whole team of players for Bradford City, huge congratulations on your incredible success.
“If His Holiness' blessing has helped in any way towards your wonderful efforts, I hope that blessing will continue to bring you good fortune.
“He would hope that this tremendous achievement can be turned into an opportunity to help others, demonstrating the power of sport to bring happiness to others on and off the pitch.
“He remembers his time in Yorkshire with great affection and wishes you every success in the big match. Of course, we at the Office of Tibet also wish you the best of luck in the final!”
Friends of Bradford City’s chairman Mark Neale said: “When I opened the letter you could have blown me over with a feather. FIrst I get the shock of reaching a major Cup final, then receive a letter from the Dalai Lama. The heart can’t take much more.”
Mr Neale, a lifelong City fan, hopes making the Dalai Lama president is a wise move, because he is “infinite”.
He said the Friends will embrace the Dalai Lama even more and will be sending scarves, and programmes out to him in the near future.
“I have this vision of him sitting on a mountain listening for City’s results. I Know we have a great manager in Phil Parkinson, but any help we can get is great, and maybe the Dalai Lama has played his part in City’s amazing success.
"My wife Julie, who is a season ticket holder, says she might become a Buddhist!"
The next challenge is to find someone to make Bradford City Dalai Lama lapel badges. The Chinese firm that manufactures them has refused to make these.