Xtra - Brad 300-up special
Brad Friedel's amazing run of consecutive matches in the Premier League reached the 300-mark at QPR on Saturday.
The goalkeeper's run stretches back to the start of the 2004-05 season when he was with Sunday's opponents Blackburn, and takes in a spell at Villa and this season at Spurs.
Brad has been presented with a Barclays Merit Award for his outstanding achievement, the longest run of back to back appearances in the Premier League's history.
We sat down for a special Q&A with the former USA international earlier in the week, but first a few 300-up statistics...
• 29,013 minutes played
• 1,526 saves – an average of five saves per match
• 97 clean sheets
• 366 goals conceded – only one goal every 79.27 minutes
• 47 penalties faced – 14 saved
• Five managers: Graeme Souness (Blackburn), Mark Hughes (Blackburn), Martin O’Neill (Aston Villa), Gerard Houllier (Aston Villa) and Harry Redknapp (Tottenham)
• 0 substitutions
Xtra: First of all Brad, how did it feel to reach such a fantastic milestone?
Brad: "I would have felt better had we’d won the game! Whenever you hit milestones like that but don’t get the three points, you don’t want to think about it too much, but yes, 300 games is a lot of games consecutively. When I first came to the country it took me five years to get in with all the work permit problems, then I wasn’t a regular at Liverpool, so 300 games consecutively was a long shot back then.
"As things started rolling at Blackburn, game by game, no-one really mentioned the record to me until I went to Villa, that’s where I was getting towards a number that would break David James’ mark. I’ve been fortunate to keep fit since then. I broke the record at 176 games and here we are at 300."
Even in your first interviews as a Spurs player, you were not really concerned with the number of consecutive games, it was always the team first...
"No, I didn’t, and the reason I know now is because of all the talk recently. When I signed for Tottenham there was a battle on for the number one goalkeeping spot, maybe games would be here and there, and you never know if you are going to be number one, so it could have stopped back on 266, whatever it was."
The obvious question is how do you keep going, especially at 40 and with all the hard work you have to do in training, work that people don't really see?
"Goalkeepers, on a physical side of things, do a lot more Monday to Friday than we do on a Saturday. When you get older, the mentality is always ‘do you want to continue playing?’ and I do. Most of my friends in football are retired and they tell me one thing, as long as you can play, keep playing as long as you can, because there is nothing like it. Even if you go into coaching or management, nothing can replace playing. I will take their advice.
"The other side to it is the obvious things, you have to look after your body, look after what you put into your body and you have to have a lot of luck. You can’t do anything about trauma injuries, if you break a leg, damage a knee, hurt a shoulder, things of that nature, perhaps have a bad collision and suffer concussion. Those sort of things can happen.
"For me, whenever I’ve had a minor illness or a little knock, it always seems to have happened during an international break, when I would get a fortnight to recover. You do get banged up as the season progresses, then the summer repairs all that."
Tony Parks, your goalkeeping coach, said you and Carlo simply 'know how to play the game'...
"That comes with experience. When you do make a mistake, you know you’ve made it. I think when you are younger, you might think ‘is that my mistake?’ and you second guess yourself. When you get to mine and Carlo’s age, you know what you need to do. Whether or not you go out there and do it all the time is a different story, but you know how to correct it. The mental aspect of playing football is definitely easier as you get older."
What have been the stand-out games for you?
"There have been quite a few highlights. There were so many times during my time at Blackburn that we had make-or-break games, whether it was creeping into Europe, or possibly being in a relegation fight. I can’t pinpoint games. The remarkable run for Blackburn was that we didn’t lose at home to United for something like seven or eight years. Each time I played against them, especially being a Liverpool supporter, I took great pride in that.
"There are too many games to pinpoint one. The debuts are always special. The one with Tottenham was a losing game, but it was still special. With Villa it was City at home, with Liverpool it was Villa away with Blackburn, my debut was Wolves at home. I could go 20 years back with that and remember them all."
You played some many important games for Rovers, now you have one against them on Sunday. How were the lads after QPR?
"We were a bit down, obviously, but as a footballer you have to pick yourself back up. There is nothing else you can do. You have to look yourself in the mirror, go out and do your work. We can do nothing else except to go out and try to get the three points on Sunday. I’ve said it so many times, but we have so much quality in the dressing room there is no reason why we shouldn’t come out winners on Sunday. Blackburn, on the other hand, are fighting for their lives. It will be very difficult to break them down but I would like to think that our quality will come out on top on Sunday."
I suppose with such pressure, the squad will be looking towards the more experienced players like yourself...
"It’s probably easier the older you are, but you can’t keep heaping on pressure. You have to keep the game of football enjoyable. Yes, you take it seriously and yes, you have to be upset with yourself and others in the correct manner, yes, if I make a mistake I’m not happy, but you have to take the pressure off and enjoy your football. If you don’t enjoy your football, it’s difficult to get results. For those of us who have the experience in the dressing room, that’s what we have to try and instill into the players.
"We have so much youth and if they see the more experienced, senior players being relaxed, then they can be relaxed as well. There is nothing to be afraid of and with the talent we have in the dressing room, we should be able to win four of four."
You'll come up against another familiar and popular face for all Spurs fans on Sunday, Paul Robinson. What's your verdict on his season?
"When he first made the move to Blackburn it was a bit up and down for him, that happens whem you change clubs. When Big Sam got in there, his form really took off and his form has been rock solid ever since. This season is no different and he’s been busy this season. They’ve had a tremendous amount of adversity, but Robbo remains in very high esteem with all the fans there and most games you’ll read and see that he’s performing to a very high standard."
So the big question - four matches left - can we make the top four?
"Absolutely we can do it. There is no reason why we can’t."