Dalai Lama blesses Bradford City ahead of League Cup final
League Cup finalists Bradford City have received an unexpected boost ahead of their Wembley showdown - a message of support from the Dalai Lama.
The Tibetan spiritual leader was made aware of the Bantams when he received a club shirt at a conference last year.
Now his representative has sent the League Two club a letter hailing their "tremendous achievement".
The writer, Thubten Samdup, also wished the team "every success in the big match" from "his holiness".
Claret and amber
Last month Phil Parkinson's side became the first team from the fourth tier of English football to reach a League Cup final in more than 50 years.
Their route to Wembley saw them cast aside a trio of Premier League teams: Arsenal, Aston Villa and Wigan.
Mark Neal, of fundraising group Friends of Bradford City, explained that the group had been looking for a high-profile supporter when the Dalai Lama visited Leeds for a business convention last June.
The group was struck by the similarities between the claret and amber colours of Bradford City and the traditional robes of Tibetan Buddhist monks.
Scarves and programmes
The group managed to present him with a personalised number 14 club shirt - he is the 14th Dalai Lama - and also appointed the spiritual leader as its honorary president.
Mr Neale said: "We thought we'd never hear another thing."
But he has now received the letter from the Office of Tibet sending good wishes to the team.
The letter says: "He remembers his time in Yorkshire with great affection and wishes you every success in the big match."
The group will be sending Bradford City scarves and programmes to the Dalai Lama, Mr Neal said.
The League Cup final between Bradford and Swansea City is on 24 February.