When he was an army recruit, Bradbury played part-time when on leave for Halstead Town under 18 side, and during the 94-5 season Cowes Sports. Bradbury started his professional career atPortsmouth, where he played for three years. A number of impressive performances in the 1996–97 season resulted in interest from a number of clubs, and in July 1997 he was purchased by Manchester City manager Frank Clark for a club record £3 million. However, Bradbury struggled to make an impact at Maine Road, and at the end of the 1997–98 season City were relegated, with Bradbury having scored just six goals.
Three months into the following season Bradbury moved to Crystal Palace for £1.5 million. Less than a year later Bradbury was on the move again, returning to Portsmouth for £300,000.
Bradbury's career started to recover at Pompey, making more than 100 appearances in his second spell at the club. However, in the 2002–03 season Bradbury lost his first team place as Portsmouth pushed for the First Division title. Loan spells at Derby, Sheffield Wednesday and Walsall (where he scored once against former club Derby) followed in the 2003–04 season.
At the end of the 2004–05 season Bradbury was playing for Oxford United. Bradbury signed a four-month contract with Southend United on 31 January 2006. He subsequently signed a longer contract.
In August 2007, Bradbury signed for Bournemouth on a four-month loan deal. After playing one game for the club the loan was made permanent, and Bradbury signed a contract until the end of the season.
In the later stages of Bradbury's career, he played in a much different role, being converted into a right back for Bournemouth during an injury crisis he became the first choice right back for the south coast club, but with the arrival of defender Stephen Purches, who returned after three seasons away from Bournemouth, Bradbury went back to his former role of striker whilst attacking options were limited.
On 15 January 2011, Bradbury was appointed as caretaker manager after the departure of Eddie Howe to Burnley. The next day, he announced his retirement from playing, and on 28 January, was given a two-and-a-half-year deal as permanent manager of the club. In January 2012, Bradbury signed an improved three-and-a-half-year contract to manage the League One club, keeping him at Bournemouth until the summer of 2015. During his first season at the helm, Bradbury steered the Cherries into the League One Play-offs, eventually losing to Huddersfield on penalties. On 25 March, during his second season, Bradbury was dismissed from AFC Bournemouth following the club's run of poor form.
Bradbury's first match in charge of the Hawks came against Basingstoke on October 13th 2012. He started his tenure with a win, just the second of the season, which lifted the Hawks out of the relegation zone. With 31 games remaining at the point he took over, Lee took time to cut underperforming players while relying on a string of impressive loan signings from league sides to bolster the team and eventually finished the season with the Hawks top of the form table.
In his second season in charge Lee continued to use the strategy of loaning players from league sides to add to his squad, and took the Hawks to the semi-final of the FA Trophy as well as the final of the Hampshire Senior Cup. The side also missed a playoff spot by just goal difference.
Last season Lee took the Hawks one step further by reaching fifth spot in the table and a two legged playoff semi-final against Boreham Wood, who beat the Hawks 4-2 on aggregate and went on to achieve promotion. The Hawks also enjoyed excellent cup success again, reaching the first round proper of the FA Cup to face league opposition in Preston North End, and more locally the side also won the Portsmouth Senior Cup, beating Petersfield Town 4-2 in the final.
He started his playing career at Portsmouth as a trainee in July 1988, but only made a handful of appearances in six years before moving to Barnet in 1994. At Barnet he became a regular starter making over 130 appearances in three seasons.
In June 1997, Exeter City manager Peter Fox paid £10,000 to bring Gale to St James Park, where he was again a regular starter before a series of injuries started to interrupt his career.
In August 2000, he moved on a free transfer to Havant & Waterlooville, where he made over 100 appearances in his first two seasons. He sustained a broken arm during a friendly in August 2003 and the repercussions kept him off the pitch for the whole of the 2003–04 season, eventually forcing his retirement from playing. In February 2004 he took up the position as David Leworthy's right-hand man and remained in the role under Ian Baird.
In October 2007, he was appointed as manager to The Hawks following Ian Baird's departure to Conference South rivals Eastleigh.
In the 2007–08 FA Cup, the Gale-led Hawks beat Bognor Regis, Fleet Town, Leighton Town, York City and Notts County, before causing a shock by defeating League One side Swansea City 4–2 in a third round replay. In the fourth round they played Premier League Liverpool at Anfield, and caused a sensation by leading twice before losing 5–2.
The 2011–12 season was a poor one for Havant & Waterlooville, and after dropping to second from bottom in the league following a defeat at Basingstoke Town, Gale was sacked on 1 April. He has since been appointed as assistant manager at the club.
Shaun Gale is also Community Manager at Havant and Waterlooville F.C.