Tottenham Hotspur (Premiership)
#1 | Goalkeeper
May 18, 1971 (Age: 43)
6' 4", 205 lbs (1.93 m, 93 kg)
Ohio native Brad Friedel excelled in both soccer and basketball while attending Bay High in Cleveland. His professional career could have taken a drastically different route as he was invited to try out for the UCLA basketball team in 1990, but luckily for fans of US soccer, Friedel chose to join the Bruin soccer program.
The big goalkeeper proved to be a true standout, earning All-American honors three times and helping to lead the Bruins to the Division I national title as a freshman. Along the way to the championship, Friedel stopped two critical penalties in a true foreshadowing of the effect he would have on the fortunes of the US Men's National Team.
Friedel left college following his junior year to pursue a career as a professional soccer player. Unable to join Premiership side Newcastle United due to a failed work permit appeal, Friedel joined Br?ndby of the Danish Super League in early 1995.
After playing only ten games in Denmark, it was off to Turkish powerhouse Galatasaray.
In July 1996, Friedel came home to be a part of Major League Soccer in its inaugural year. He made an immediate impact on his new club, the Columbus Crew, leading the team into the playoffs and finishing the season as a finalist for Goalkeeper of the Year.
After an outstanding second season in MLS which garnered him Goalkeeper of the Year honors and another trip to the playoffs with the Crew, Friedel signed with Liverpool in 1997.
His time at Liverpool was frustrating, with the position as number one proving elusive despite producing solid numbers in his few appearances over his three seasons there. In the fall of 2000, Friedel found himself at another English club, Blackburn Rovers, where he would re-join his former Galatasaray manager Graeme Souness.
Since joining Blackburn, Friedel has found himself automatic in the starting 11. In his first season, he helped to lead the club to the FA Cup quarterfinals and started in the club's final 25 matches.
The following season Friedel's play continued to improve. He was named man of the match upon defeating Tottenham in the final of the Worthington Cup and was recognized as one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League.
For the 2002/03 season, Friedel once again played a key role in guiding Blackburn to success as the club finished sixth on the table, their highest placing in five seasons, as the team qualified for the UEFA Cup.
His incredible season included a sweep against Arsenal and posting a shutout against Manchester United, culminating in being named the in PA Team of the Year, recognizing him as the top keeper in England as voted by his fellow players.
Despite a tough 2003/04 and 2004/05 seasons that saw the club battle relegation much of the time, Friedel posted 21 shutouts, including clean sheets against Liverpool and Manchester United.
Finally Rovers' luck turned around the following season when Friedel led his team to a massive sixth-place finish, earning them a spot in the UEFA Cup.
Despite signing a contract extension with Blackburn in February of 2008, Friedel was transfered to Aston Villa at the end of the 2008 season.
Since joining Villa, Friedel has been a lock as the starting goalkeeper.
After proving his worth with the US Olympic Team in 1991 and 1992, Friedel earned his first cap in September 1992, a 2-0 victory over Canada in St. John's, Halifax. Less than two years later he would be the backup to Tony Meola for the National Team in the 1994 World Cup.
Despite playing very well for the US in the years leading up to the 1998 World Cup, Friedel was again forced to watch from the sidelines as another keeper, this time Kasey Keller, took the starting role. After dropping the first two matches in France, Friedel finally saw World Cup action against Yugoslavia in a 1-0 loss.
In 2000 Friedel was chosen as one of three overage players to join the US Olympic Team in Sydney, where his leadership and experience helped guide the side to a fourth-place finish, the highest ever by a US Men's team.
Starting all five matches in the 2002 World Cup, Friedel played a huge role in leading the US.team to the quarterfinals. His penchant for stopping penalty shots proved a major advantage, as he became one of only two players to ever stop two penalty shots in the first round of play.
One of those saves came against South Korea and helped to ensure the vital point that allowed the US to advance to the second round, where Friedel would post a shutout against CONCACAF nemesis Mexico 2-0.
Friedel retired from international play in February 2005.