He may be 42, but Brad Friedel proved why he is still mixing it with the top goalkeepers in Europe when he put the Haringey Independent through its paces at Tottenham Hotspur’s impressive Enfield training complex.
Match day reporter Chris Hewett joined a media team trying to keep up with the veteran US shot stopper before quizzing him on his career, his seemingly unyielding fitness and where his future in the game lies.
In the first of a three part series, Friedel reveals his aspirations post-retirement and explains why he thinks goalkeepers could make the best managers...
“I finished my coaching A-licence over the summer. It’s been a long haul. I heard one player on the radio saying the other day about how they can fast-track players through. There’s nothing fast-track about it if you do it properly, and I wanted to do it properly.”
After decades at some of the biggest clubs in the world including Galatasaray, Blackburn Rovers, Liverpool and now Spurs, Brad Friedel is preparing for retirement.
The past five years have involved intense extra-curricular work to achieve his various coaching badges and he showed bits of what he has learned when he put a team of journalists through a first team-style training session, incorporating a number of the drills perfected by the likes of Sandro, Dembele and Adebayor on a daily basis.
He said: “The badges are an important part – not so much the knowledge of the game, that is in most of our heads, particularly if you’ve been involved in the game a long time. But it’s about how to get it out, the man-management aspect and the organisation of a training session.
“I think you have to take your ego helmet off and put it to one side because you’re starting from the basement of a new profession.”
Friedel has worked under three different managers since joining Spurs in 2011 and the Premier League record breaker says he could be interested in a taking a seat in the dugout himself somewhere down the line.
He said: “It does appeal, but whether it’s coaching or management I’m not sure. I’ve done quite a bit of punditry as well – something involved in the game is what interests me.
“I think when you talk about management, you have to get your chance. People always have this thing of ‘is it a risk taking a young manager?’
“It’s a risk taking any manager, whether young or old. I’ve had some young managers that are far better than some of the old ones and vice versa so I think what’s important is getting together with the right club, the right chairman and what’s right for you at the time.”
Football fans may struggle to reel off a list of top-flight managers who once plied their trade in goal, but Friedel says he is not deterred by a lack of predecessors making the transition.
He said: “I think it might be that a lot of the goalkeepers didn’t want to do it.
“From my standpoint it’s a great area to watch a game from and to learn from. Many moons ago people just thought the goalkeepers were crazy so they were just set aside.
“I’ll agree that some are eccentric but you can’t be thick to be a goalkeeper. You have to make too many decisions at too short notice to be thick. Eccentric you can be, but to be a top goalkeeper you cant be thick.”
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