Brad Friedel has honestly described that while trying to settle in England, the performance’s he produced for Liverpool were among the worst he played in his career, in the new issue of FourFourTwo.
Friedel joined Liverpool in 1997 from Columbus Crew, at 26-years-old. Having worked his entire career to achieve his goal of appearing in the Premier League, this was a momentous occasion for Friedel. However, Friedel played back up goalkeeper to David James, and when he finally received his opportunity, he failed to perform.
“My first three months there was probably the worst I played in my whole life,” admits Friedel. “I was so erratic. By the time I’d settled down, Gerard Houllier – God rest his soul – had come in and there were changes.
“They brought in Sander Westerveld and it was very difficult to get in the team. It was a shame things never worked out the way I wanted them to, but it was an honour to play for Liverpool.”
Moving to England, let alone Liverpool, was the dream move for Friedel. After years of attempting to join clubs in England, issues with work permits clouded Friedel in uncertainty. It made it all the more sweeter, therefore, when he finally reached his destination in Liverpool, especially after gaining a work permit on appeal after denial of the first request.
“It [joining Liverpool] was enormous. There was a lot of emotion, because of how long it took me to get a work permit.”
The frustration Friedel had with work permits is obvious, who later went onto set the record for the most consecutive Premier League appearances, with 310, playing every game between 2004 and 2012 in spells at Blackburn, Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur.
“I signed a contract with Newcastle and went there for three months while we tried to get my work permit through on appeal. Then I signed a contract with Sunderland, but that got denied too. I tried again at Southampton as well. I had a trial at Celtic and was offered a contract, but didn’t accept it – I’m not sure I’d have got a permit there, either.
“You had to feature in 75 per cent of your national team’s matches for the previous two seasons, which was hard to do as a young keeper. But it took me to Brondby and Galatasaray – I wouldn’t have had those experiences otherwise.”
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