Brad Friedel ended his Premier League career after a total of 450 appearances, which remains a record for any North or South American player. This was not the only record he has broken. The American goalkeeper hold the all time record for the most consecutive premier league appearances of 310 matches.
Ohio native Brad Friedel excelled in soccer and basketball while attending Bay High in Cleveland. However, his professional career could have taken a drastically different route as he was invited to try out for the UCLA basketball team in 1990. Still, luckily for fans of soccer, Friedel chose to join the Bruin soccer program.
The giant 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.
Becoming A Professional
The future Premier League records holder 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 Brøndby of the Danish Super League in early 1995.
After playing only ten games in Denmark, Brad Friedel 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.
Landing In England
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 rejoin his former Galatasaray manager Graeme Souness.
Brad Friedel At Blackburn Rovers
Since joining Blackburn, Brad Friedel has found himself automatically 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 crucial 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 in the PFA Team of the Year, recognizing him as the top goalkeeper in England as voted by his fellow players.
Despite a challenging 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 Brad Friedel led his team to a massive sixth-place finish, earning them a spot in the UEFA Cup.
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, Brad 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 significant advantage, as he became one of only two players to 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. Brad Friedel retired from international play in February 2005.
In 2008, Brad signed a three-year contract with Aston Villa for a transfer fee of around 2.5 million pounds. During his 167th Premier League appearance, the American broke the record for consecutive appearances with a 0–0 draw at Fulham on November 30, 2008.
He reached the milestone of 250 consecutive league games on January 16, 2011. In his final season for Villa in 2011, Friedel was the oldest oldest player to ever play for the Premier League club.
Brad Friedel At Tottenham Hotspur
USA goalkeeping legend and holder of the record consecutive starts in the Premier League – 310 – Brad joined from Aston Villa in the summer of 2011.
Brad Friedel was ever-present in the Premier League in his first season with Spurs. The Tottenham goalkeeper’s incredible run of Premier League starts reached the 300 mark at QPR in April 2012, and he was presented a special Barclays Merit Award in recognition.
Most Consecutive Premier League Appearances
He took his tally to 304 matches by the end of the season, when he achieved another record – becoming the club’s oldest player at 40 years, 350 days, passing the mark set by Jimmy Cantrell that had stood for 89 years.
He reached 310 before Hugo Lloris took over the gloves against Villa in October 2012. The goalkeeper with the most consecutive premier league appearances record played 20 times in all competitions in 2012-13, including 11 in the Premier League and seven in the Europa League.
Until he was left out of the Tottenham team on October 7, 2012, Brad Friedel’s last Premier League game that he missed was Blackburn’s final two fixtures of the 2003–04 season.
Club Ambassador And Life After Playing
In June 2014, at the age of 42, Brad put pen to paper on a new one-year contract with the club, which will saw him become a Club Ambassador with a particular focus on our work in his native United States.
His Ambassadorial role had a wide-ranging remit that will include greater involvement in their Global Coaching program and engaging with the 30 Supporters Clubs from across North America.
Having initially arrived in England more than 17 years ago, Brad returned home to America to become an analyst, pundit, and co-commentator for US channel Fox Sports and the BBC in 2014 and 2015.
Brad Friedel became the head coach of the United States under-19s in 2016. As assistant coach of the US U-20 team with Tab Ramos and Omid Namazi, he won the 2017 CONCACAF U-20 Championship.
The New England Revolution named Brad Friedel, their head coach, in 2017. As a result of Friedel’s 12-21-13 coaching record, the New England Revolution fired him in 2019.