Brad Friedel: I'm going to play until my body says I can't

The veteran American keeper has an eye on coaching but he's not planning on retiring as a player with Tottenham looking to build off a strong season.
At 42 years young, Brad Friedel is still going strong as a member of Tottenham Hotspur, one of England's biggest soccer clubs.

So it's no surprise that the former United States international goalkeeper insists that he hasn't given much thought to retiring just yet.

"I'll see if I can walk down the stairs in January," Friedel joked to Goal. "I'm going to play until my body says I can't do it anymore or the club doesn't want me."

Friedel is entering his 22nd professional season. He's the Premier League's oldest player and hopes that Tottenham will be his last club in a storied career that also has included stops at Galatasaray, Liverpool, Blackburn Rovers and Aston Villa. Friedel decided to re-sign with Spurs last January and plans to coach once his playing days are over.

Friedel has been aggressive in getting his coaching licenses, already having completed his UEFA B badge, which allows him to coach goalkeepers, and is anticipating finishing his A badge (necessary to coach outfield players) by next summer. He admits that because he is still interested in playing, he doesn't have a timeline as to when he sees himself on the sidelines.

Although his focus on getting UEFA certified would suggest that Friedel is looking for opportunities only in Europe, the veteran is open to coaching in Major League Soccer - if there is a good fit.

"Would I consider a job in MLS? Absolutely," said Friedel, who spent two seasons with the Columbus Crew during the league's early years. "I think if it's with the right people and the right owners and the right club, absolutely."

First, though, Friedel still has unfinished business on the pitch.

Spurs narrowly missed out on the final EPL Champions League spot despite having the highest point tally in the club's history. Friedel doesn't think there is a major area where Tottenham needs improvement, believing that only minor tweaks here and there could help the club reach its goals. He's a firm believer that manager Andre Villas-Boas is the right man to get the job done.

"When Andre came in, he set the tone right away," Friedel said. "He said he was a winner and he wanted us to be winners and he wanted the club to be successful.

"He's very much an attention-to-detail manager. Our training sessions are very structured, very organized. He came in and had an open door policy right away which is all you can ask for a player."

Considering all of the media reports that surrounded the manager after he lost his job at Chelsea before joining Spurs, Friedel admitted that AVB's approach won over the team quickly.

"Most of us only knew Andre from either knowing a couple of players at Chelsea or all of the media speculation revolving around why he lost his job at Chelsea," Friedel explained. "So when you hear stories about people, you really do have to meet them face to face to see what the real person is like.

"I had no idea of what happened at Chelsea on a day-to-day basis, I wasn't there. When I met him, you had to take him as you see him. I don't know if he learned from his time at Chelsea, I'm assuming he did."

Friedel and Villas-Boas have developed a strong relationship over the past year and the goalkeeper said it was helpful considering the difficult decision to start Hugo Lloris, who was acquired during last summer's transfer window to become Tottenham's long-term goalkeeper.

The Portuguese manager spoke to Friedel privately about the decision. While the American didn't agree with it, he respects the way Villas-Boas handled the situation and harbors no ill feelings towards Lloris.

"We had a chat, we came out of the chat shaking hands and I respected him for what he said. He respected me for what I said," Friedel explained. "At 42 years of age, the team comes first."

He added, "Me and Hugo have a very good relationship... He's a really nice guy and a really good goalkeeper."

Despite becoming Lloris' backup, Friedel saw some playing time as the club's cup goalkeeper, starting in the Capital One Cup and FA Cup along with the Europa League. He's happy with his current role despite admitting that he could have left Spurs in January to be a full-time starter elsewhere.

"I did have a few calls last January but none of them were printed," stated Friedel, who wouldn't reveal which clubs were interested but did say that none of the offers came from MLS.

And it doesn't really matter... he's fully focused on Tottenham next season anyway.

"We're little tweaks away from greatness," Friedel said.

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