Brad's best saves - and final interview - on his birthday!
Mon 18 May 2020, 15:45|Tottenham Hotspur
Our former, record-breaking goalkeeper Brad Friedel turns 49 today - 18 May.
Time flies - incredibly, it's already five years since the legendary former USA number one hung up his gloves for the last time.
Brad retired in May, 2015 having enjoyed the final four years of his career at Spurs. He played 50 times for us in the Premier League, and made 67 appearances in all competitions between 2011-2015.
He will always be remember for setting the record for consecutive appearances in the Premier League - an amazing 310 between 2004-2012. It's a record he set during his last seasons at Spurs and one that is unlikely to be beaten.
Brad's playing career spanned three decades and included spells at Liverpool, Galatasaray, Blackburn, Villa and finally Spurs - and not forgetting 82 caps for the USA.
On his birthday, we turn the clock back five years - here are excerpts from his farewell interview conducted at Hotspur Way...
Brad's farewell interview - May, 2015
How much of an emotional moment is this for you?
Brad Friedel: "It’s been a long-time coming. I don’t think it will be an emotional moment in terms of sadness because I couldn’t have asked for more - 23 seasons in professional football coming from where I come from, Cleveland, Ohio, where there is no professional league, plus the trials and tribulations it took for me to get a work permit. I’m in a very fortunate position. If I’d have retired 10 years ago I would have been a very happy man just to be able to come and play in the Premier League, which I consider the most competitive league in the world, for as long as I have, it’s been an absolute honour. I knew this day would come, it’s inevitable and I couldn’t be happier with how things have panned out."
It must be a momentous decision to make though as you could still play...
Brad: "Yes, I could still play and I feel as physically fit as ever. There came a time in my life where I needed to decide where to stabilise my kids, I have to think about their livelihoods, and this was the right time. I’m so thankful for John McDermott (Academy Manager) and the Academy, the staff and the board for allowing me so much time in the Academy to do my coaching badges."
Brad's best saves
Here's the question everyone must ask - what is the secret of your longevity?
Brad: "I’d break that into different categories. I had a lot of setbacks when I was younger, so I’d say a determination to get to where I wanted to be, which as a goalkeeper was to play in England. I was turned down for work permit after work permit, so I would have to go back to the drawing board, which meant going to another club, playing games, playing internationals and getting enough caps to try again. It took me five years, so that perseverance was instilled in me. I was helped my goalkeeping coach at UCLA, Tim Harris, and when Tim and Sigi Schmid (UCLA manager) saw I had a talent, they pushed me to the limit between 18 and 20. Once I came over, I never wanted to leave. As your body and mind get older, you grow up and do things a little differently off the field and see how you can prolong your career. I’m very fortunate to be a goalkeeper so I don’t have to cover the kilometres on the pitch, I don’t go into the collisions so the risk of injury is less. If you keep your body weight down and keep your mind intent, as has been proved by a lot of goalkeepers, you can play well into your 40s. I never played for anything other than the love of the game and when you get to 35, 36, if you don’t truly love the game, that’s when a lot of players tend to pack in. I love being around the team, around the players day to day and I love being physically fit. From 31, 32, I attribute a lot of the longevity to yoga, diet – no secrets – just looking after yourself. If you stay fit and mentally strong, you can do it."
When you joined us you were in the middle of your record consecutive PL run and we’re proud as club that you extended to 310 here.
Brad: "It was strange because as the run was going on, I didn’t really know anything about it until I went to Villa and someone told me ‘in 10 games, you’ll beat the record’. I did that and it went away again, I didn’t think about it, the games kept ticking on and I got to around 250 and people were saying ‘you know you’re at 250 now?’ and you just forget about it! I never went out thinking ‘I’ve got to play today because of the record’, I just trained as hard as I could to keep my form up to hopefully play at the weekend. A couple of times I got lucky, there was a frozen pitch up at Blackburn when I was going to have a fitness test and another time, I turned my ankle against Blackburn for Villa, we were playing Newcastle away next and I just made it for that game. Those were the only two times though in eight or nine seasons!"
Such a run is unlikely to happen again...
Brad: "Things can happen along the way. For instance, it might be towards the end of the season, you might not have much to play for and the manager will want to see how a younger goalkeeper plays. I’d be surprised if an outfield player ever got near it because with squads, squad rotations, injuries, that would be difficult. A goalkeeper might but there are twists and turns, injuries, a red card, anything could happen. Looking back, it’s quite remarkable in a sense but I never thought of it like that along the way."
Finally Brad, after so long in the game, does the prospect of retiring worry you at all?
Brad: "No, I’m mentally ready to stop playing. The club is in great hands from first team down to Academy level. The coaches are outstanding at this club. The decision was made some time ago but that didn’t stop me from wanting to be fit, playing and trying to do the best I can. I can’t see myself missing playing, maybe turning up every day and having a laugh with the boys, perhaps that, but I’ll now have a new family at Fox Sports to do that with."