American goalkeeper Brad Friedel was a veteran when he came to Spurs to add experience to the side when signed by Harry Redknapp on a free transfer.
A player who had moved across Europe extensively in his progress as a goalkeeper, having started playing his football in the US. Brad tried to seek his fortune abroad with Nottingham Forest and some other English clubs, but was not able to obtain a work permit, so he was signed up by the US Soccer Federation (USSF), but he was still keen to move to Europe to gain a higher standard of experience than he was exposed to at home.
Having grown up in Bay Village in Ohio, he went to Westerly Elemental School, before attending Bay Middle School and Bay High School, going on to claim the 1989 Outstanding Athlete of the Year award at that school, as he excelled at basketball, tennis and soccer. There were rumours that Friedel would be given an opportunity of playing for UCLA, but a trial came to nothing and although he started as a forward in the soccer teams he played for, he soon reverted to goalkeeper, where he ended up in the UCLA soccer side. In 1992 he won the Hermann Trophy awarded to the top college player of the year.
Once more he tried to move to Europe, with his first stop Newcastle United, where he was supposed to go on loan, but once again, he was not granted a work permit. Thus he joined Brondby in Denmark, where he was used as a reserve keeper and while he was at the club for some months, he failed to make an appearance. Back in the US, Friedel worked hard as the national side prepared for the US Cup and the Copa America, but once over, he hoped to join Sunderland, but again, the Home Office prevented him doing so. Therefore, he moved to Galatasaray where he was signed for $1.1 million by Graeme Souness to get some playing time in a top team.
His one season ended in June 1996, when he returned to his homeland, where he signed a three year deal with Colombus Crew in his home state of Ohio. Making the Team of the Year and being voted MLS Keeper of the Year, Liverpool finally brought Brad to England for £1.7 million.
Friedel proved a solid keeper for the Reds, but he could not displace David James or Sander Westerveld as the number one and he ended up playing only thirty games in three years with the Anfield club. Thus he looked to move on to get a starting position in a team, he attracted Souness' attention once more and now manager of Blackburn Rovers, he took Brad to Ewood Park on a free transfer in November 2000.
His move gave him the chance to show off his athleticism, helping Rovers to promotion in 2001 and then to win the League Cup against Spurs at the Millennium Stadium in 2002, winning the Man of the Match award in the process. In 2003, Friedel was named in the Premier League team of the season and then continued in the first team until the end of 2008, when, despite having signed a contract extension, the American goalie left to join Aston Villa for £2.5 million.
At Villa Park, Brad continued in goal as first choice, making his 167th consecutive appearance on 30th November 2008, a new Premier League record. More records came his way, being the oldest player to appear for Villa and his consecutive run continued, although a scare came when he was sent off against his old club Liverpool, but the decision was over-turned without him missing a match.
With the Midlands club signing Shay Given and as Friedel's contract was up in the summer of 2011, a move to Tottenham arose and the prospect of European football tempted him to move to London.
His performances for Tottenham were in stark contrast to the goalie he replaced, Heurelho Gomes. Redknapp didn't fancy the Brazilian and despite Tony Parks working with the South American, Brad stepped in to continue his run of successive Premier League appearances and became the oldest player to play in the Premier League.
Becoming the oldest player in Tottenham's history, Brad continued to play well keeping Carlo Cudicini and Gomes in reserve. Producing some terrific saves, using his tall frame to reach the ball when diving, Friedel went on to make 308 Premier League appearances in succession, with the run only coming to an and on 7th October 2012, when Andre Villas-Boas signed French captain Hugo Lloris and he took his place between the sticks against Aston Villa.
Despite only appearing when Lloris was injured or cup games came around, Friedel was signed up on a new contract in December 2012 that would keep him at the club until the summer of 2014 at which time he decided to call it a day playing the game. Brad returned to the USA to become a pundit on TV and act as an ambassador for Tottenham in his home country.
His 82 games in the USA team came between 1992 and 2005, when he retired from international football. During his time in the national side, Brad featured in the 1998 and 2002 World Cup finals, after being the back-up keeper in 1994.
NICKNAME : “The Human Wall” (for his
performances in the 2002 World Cup finals)