Brad Friedel's long career will come to an end at the conclusion of Tottenham Hotspur's season. The goalkeeper, who starred for the United States and was one of the first American players to make an impact on the European club scene, will begin working as an analyst for Fox Sports.
That Friedel is retiring will surprise absolutely no one. He will turn 44 years old soon and essentially confirmed that he would be calling it quits last year when he announced that he would be joining Fox as an analyst in 2015. He didn't say when in 2015, or even that he would stop playing to do so, but it was clear as day and now he has confirmed it.
Friedel played 82 games for the U.S. from 1992 until he international retirement in 2005. He made three World Cup teams and was one of the Americans' stars at the 2002 tournament. He stopped a World Cup record two penalty kicks and playing as well as anyone in the tournament as the U.S. went to the quarterfinals.
A native of Ohio, Friedel went to UCLA before starting his professional career. He went on loan to Newcastle and Brondby, never playing a match at either, before joining Galatasaray in 1995 and becoming their first choice goalkeeper. After one season there, he returned to the U.S. playing two seasons for the Columbus Crew. That's when Liverpool came calling and his long stint in England began.
Friedel played 25 times for Liverpool in three seasons. While that doesn't seem especially impressive, for an American to be at a club like Liverpool was a huge deal. Friedel then went to Blackburn, where he became a club institution over nine years. A move to Aston Villa followed, and then one to Tottenham Hotspur, where he will end his career. In that span, he became one of the league's most dependable goalkeepers and set a Premier League record with 310 consecutive appearances.
It could be argued that the Americans' string of great goalkeepers started with Friedel. He, along with Kasey Keller, was the first American to go to Europe and really shine, establishing himself as one of the better backstops in the world. After he retired from the national team in 2005, Keller took over as the starting goalkeeper and kept the legacy alive. Then Tim Howard did the same in 2007, and Brad Guzan is doing it now. He was a pioneer, for American goalkeepers and for goalkeepers in general.
In addition to his work for Fox, Friedel will also be Spurs' USA ambassador. It will be interesting to see how long he sticks with it because he has also shown an interest in coaching. He's spend some time coaching at Spurs and even left the club for a bit in the fall to go help coach the U.S. U-20 team. He hasn't really been a part of the first team for most of the season, but has gotten some valuable experience as a coach and is on the verge of getting his UEFA Pro license.
While Friedel's future is a bit cloudy -- a very exciting cloudy with a lot of options -- his past isn't. He is one of the greatest players the U.S. has ever produced, for both club and country.