Brad Friedel Profile
|Born||May 18, 1971|
|Birthplace||Lakewood, Ohio, United States|
A Hall of Famer, a Premier League legend and an American soccer icon. The former USA goalkeeper is one of the country's greatest ever exports. Planet Sport takes a look at his story.
Brad Friedel is a retired professional soccer player who played as goalkeeper for several high-profile English clubs as well as the USA national side.
Having started life playing for MLS club Columbus Crew in 1996, he moved to England to join Liverpool in early 1998.
Never a regular at Anfield, the man from Ohio joined Blackburn Rovers in 2000 and developed into one of the best goalkeepers of his generation.
He played more than 350 times for Rovers, including a record run of 310 consecutive Premier League appearances, before leaving for Aston Villa in 2008.
A short stint at Tottenham followed before he decided to call it a day in 2015.
In 2012, Friedel became the oldest player at 41 to appear in a competitive match for Spurs when he donned the gloves to face Aston Villa in the Premier League.
Friedel made 82 appearances for the USA and is regarded as one of the Stars and Stripes' best ever players, having played at two World Cups.
He moved back to the States to take up a coaching position with MLS side New England Revolution and was in charge between 2017 and 2019.
He was a commanding presence between the posts but a 'gentle giant' away from the action.
Friedel was born in Lakewood, Ohio and excelled in most sports while at school, most notably soccer, basketball and tennis.
It seemed as though he might opt for a career in basketball after he became an All-State player in Ohio, but soccer was his calling.
Initially a striker, he moved to goalkeeper in 1990, winning the Hermann Trophy in 1993 as the top college soccer player while at UCLA.
He made 66 appearances for UCLA, prompting Soccer America magazine to name him in its 'College Team of the Century'.
Early attempts to play professionally in England were thwarted by the authorities after he failed to gain a work permit despite being signed by Nottingham Forest and then Newcastle United.
Having already played for the full US team, he signed for Danish club Brondby in 1995 but moved to Turkish outfit Galatasaray a year later after just 10 appearances.
That was after another failed attempt to obtain a British work permit - this time having been signed by another north-east club, Sunderland.
He made 37 appearances for the Turkish Super Lig side, who were managed by Friedel's future manager at Blackburn, Graeme Souness.
After a single campaign in Turkey, he was signed by MLS side Columbus Crew and moved back to America, penning a three-year deal with the club.
He played nine times during the 2006 season and made 29 MLS appearances the following year, winning the 2007 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year award while also being selected for the MLS Best XI.
By now, Friedel was beginning to get noticed by European clubs and his spell with Columbus was cut short when Liverpool paid $2.3million to take him to Anfield.
Move to the Premier League
Liverpool finally obtained a work permit for Friedel after their first request was denied and he signed for the Reds in December 1997.
He made his debut against Aston Villa on February 28, 1998 and things began well. However, a few high-profile mistakes and loss of form saw him slip down the pecking order behind David James.
Sander Westerveld was also ahead of him and it seemed inevitable that he would be on his way.
In total, he made 31 appearances in all competitions for the Merseysiders, including two outings in the UEFA Cup, but he was unable to secure a regular starting berth at the club.
Having been made to wait so long to play in England, his stint at Liverpool was an anti-climax and it was no surprise when he left on a free transfer to join Blackburn Rovers in November 2000.
Blackburn Rovers years
Souness had not forgotten Friedel's prowess in goal from their time together in Turkey and took him to Ewood Park.
He joined during Rovers' promotion-winning season, helping the club back into England's top division. The US shot-stopper made 290 league appearances and 358 in all competitions for the club.
It was during his spell with Blackburn that he embarked on a record-breaking run of 310 consecutive starts in the Premier League, which took in future stints at Aston Villa and Tottenham.
Friedel put in some outstanding performances for Rovers, being likened to Superman by then Southampton boss Gordon Strachan.
He was named man of the match for his display as Rovers beat Tottenham to lift the League Cup in 2002.
He was also named as Rovers' Player of the Year after the 2002/2003 campaign having registered 15 clean sheets.
In February 2004, he joined an elite club of goalkeepers to score from open play when netting from a corner against Charlton Athletic. That was to equalise the game at 2-2 but Charlton went on to win 3-2.
He was an ever-present between the posts for Blackburn for the rest of his time at the club, extending his contract in both 2006 and 2008 before finally leaving for Aston Villa in the summer of 2008.
His status at Blackburn was confirmed when he was among the first seven players to be inducted into the club's Hall of Fame in 2019.
Spells at Aston Villa and Tottenham
Friedel was immediately installed as Aston Villa's number one after moving to Villa Park in the summer of 2008 for £2.8million.
He endeared himself to the Villa fans by saving a penalty against Reading just 10 minutes into his debut.
He made his Premier League debut in a 4-2 victory over Manchester City on August 17, 2008 and did not miss a match in his three seasons in the West Midlands.
Friedel made his 167th consecutive Premier League appearance against Fulham on November 30 that year to break the record. On January 16, 2011, he played his 250th consecutive league game.
The big American's time at Villa came to an end in the summer of 2011 when he penned a three-year deal with Tottenham.
Once again, he was the preferred choice in goal and played all 38 games of his first season in north London. Hugo Lloris arrived at the club during the summer of 2012 but initially Friedel kept his place.
His run of consecutive Premier League games ended at 310 on October 7, 2012, when Lloris was given the nod to start against Villa. He did return to make 11 league appearances that season and one more in 2013/14 before calling time on his playing career.
International career with the United States
Friedel's international career began at the 1992 Olympic games in Barcelona where he was named as Team USA's first-choice keeper.
He also won his first cap for the USA national team in the same year when facing Canada, keeping a clean sheet on his debut.
Although a regular in the squad, he was not the starting goalkeeper for the USA at the 1994 World Cup.
Tony Meola was given the nod, with Friedel on the bench for all four games as the US went out to Brazil in the round-of-16.
He played in a few friendlies leading up to the 1995 Copa America but had to share the goalkeeping duties with Kasey Keller at the tournament.
Having missed the 1996 Gold Cup, he was back in favour for World Cup 1998 qualification, although Keller played in a number of games as well.
It seemed as though he would be frustrated at the 1998 World Cup, with Keller still the man in possession but he finally made his tournament debut against Yugoslavia in a 1-0 defeat.
He continued to share duties with Keller but was made first-choice keeper for the 2002 World Cup in South Korea. He played every minute of the USA's five games and was the standout player on his side.
The USA reached the quarter-finals, having earned victories over Portugal and Mexico but eventually fell 1-0 to Germany.
He became the first keeper to save two penalties during regular play at the World Cup finals since 1974 and was nicknamed 'The Human Wall' by American fans.
With the emergence of Tim Howard and with Keller still in the squad, Friedel played only one more match for his country after the 2002 World Cup.
He played his final game for the USA against Poland in 2004 before retiring in 2005 with 84 caps to his name.
He would have played many more times for his nation but the Americans were blessed with a number of top-class keepers during his time as a player.
New career in management
Friedel took his first steps into management in January 2016 when he was named as head coach of the USA U-19 side.
He acted as assistant coach to Tab Ramos and Omid Namazi at the 2017 CONCACAF Under-20 Championship and helped the side win the tournament in Costa Rica.
The USA youngsters beat Honduras in the final, winning the penalty shootout 5-3.
Managing New England Revolution
He then went into club management, replacing Jay Heaps as head coach of MLS side New England Revolution on November 9, 2017.
His tenure lasted until May 9, 2019, when he was sacked after a poor run of results and replaced by former USA coach Bruce Arena.
It was not a successful spell in charge of New England, with a win percentage of just 25.
He won 12 of his 47 games as coach, losing 22 and drawing 13 and it was possibly a surprise that he kept his job for as long as he did.
His final season at Gillette Stadium saw his side win just two matches while losing eight and the club's hierarchy had to make a decision.
Friedel was raised in Ohio but spent a number of years playing soccer in the north of England.
Friends felt he developed a slight English accent but his teammates at Blackburn disagreed. He is a big fan of the Cleveland Browns. Friedel married Tracy in 1999.
He opened a non-profit soccer academy in Lorain, Ohio in 2007, with the project costing $10million. Premier Soccer Academy was aimed at children 12 years and older and provided scholarships.
However, the timing of the project could not have been worse as the financial crisis hit a year later and, struggling to attract corporate sponsors, it was forced to close in 2011.
Friedel filed for bankruptcy protection in the UK in January 2011 as a result of debts from the academy.
Friedel has worked as a soccer pundit both on TV and radio. He was a regular in the TV studio for the BBC's coverage of the 2014 World Cup and could also be heard on BBC Radio Five Live radio station.
During the 2014/2015 Premier League season, he could be seen acting as a pundit on the BBC's Match of the Day programme, while also appearing on Setanta Sports.
He stated in the summer of 2020 that he does not know if he will ever go back into coaching after the experience in New England, saying: "I found the playing much, much easier than coaching with regards to, the adrenaline gets going kind of in a similar manner, but then you're helpless most of the time."
He is now working for Promoesport, a sports management agency representing a number of top players across Europe.
He has also joined forces with former Blackburn teammate John Curtis on a project called National Center of Excellence that trains and evaluates young players in the north-east United States and south Florida.
Brad Friedel News
- Mar 24, 2021