From the publishers of THE HINDU
VOL.34 :: NO.26 :: Jun. 30, 2011
Brad Friedel may now be on the wrong side of 40 but he was still very much in demand when he decided to quit Aston Villa recently and embark on the latest challenge in his long career.
All but a few players have decided to hang up their boots — and gloves in this case — by this age and swap the demands of training and travelling for time with the family and more frequent holidays.
Not Friedel though, and it is that desire and love of the game that has helped him stay at the top level of football for so long and earn his move to Tottenham.
Friedel first arrived in English football in 1997 when he joined Liverpool from Columbus Club. The American struggled to secure regular first-team football though and only made 25 appearances during a three-year stint at Anfield before he left on a free transfer in the summer of 2000. He opted to stay in England, signing for Blackburn in November 2000 to link up with Graeme Souness who had signed Friedel for Galatasaray before his move to England.
His solid performances in goal heavily contributed to Rovers' promotion-winning season in 2000/01 and then more world-class displays kept Blackburn in top flight for a number of years. During the 2002/03 season he was in fantastic form, keeping 15 clean sheets to make him Blackburn's Player of the Year.
In 2004 the American added a rare feat to his CV when he became only the second goalkeeper to score from open play in the English Premier League with a late equaliser against Charlton, only to then concede a last-gasp winner.
Towards the end of the 2007/08 season Friedel signed a one-year contract extension, stating he wanted to stay because of his love for the club, but he had a change of heart when Aston Villa and Manchester City started expressing interest during the summer transfer window and he was soon on his way in a GBP2.5 million deal. After spending eight years with Blackburn and being a constant starter, it was a gamble to leave at the age of 37 but it paid off.
During his first season with Villa, Friedel broke the record for the most continuous games played in the EPL when he completed his 167th match in a row, a run which he has since extended to an amazing 275.
Whether he can keep it going much longer remains to be seen as he faces competition for his Tottenham place from last season's first choice Heurelho Gomes, but Friedel certainly has experience on his side.
Friedel has also impressed at international level and is the third most capped goalkeeper for the United States.
His first appearance came all the way back in 1992 against Canada where he kept a clean sheet and since then he has gone on to represent his country at two World Cups and an Olympics.
Finally in February 2005 he announced his retirement from international football so he could prolong his career at club level and there can be little doubt that he has managed that.
Friedel is married to Tracy and they have two daughters named Izabella and Allegra. A black BMW is thought to be Friedel's choice of car.
Name: Brad Friedel
Club: Tottenham Hotspur
United States caps: 82
United States goals: 0
United States debut: v Canada, 1992
Moment to remember:
Breaking the record for the most continuous appearances in the English Premier League which now stands at 275.
Moment to forget:
Failing to make an impression during his time at Liverpool, rarely starting during his three years at the club.
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