The Indian Super League (ISL) franchise Mumbai City FC have announed the signing of Manuel Friedrich for the inaugural season of the upcoming tournament.
Friedrich comes to the Mumbai team with over 15 years of professional experience as a top quality centre back, packed with a remarkable 413 appearances at various levels of football. He will be the very first recognized German footballer to play in India and the only player in the ISL to have played in the 2014 UEFA Champions League.
Known to be a strong defender and acknowledged for his fantastic aerial ability, the 34-year-old will be the backbone of Mumbai's defense. The team will rely on the vast experience the German footballer has gained playing in his country’s top league. Thanks to his aerial skill, he will be an asset to the team during set-pieces.
Commenting on the acquisition, team owner Ranbir Kapoor said, “Manuel Friedrich is unquestionably a highly experienced fine international centre back and we are thrilled to have him on board. As a defense stalwart, he will be a critical asset to the team. To top it all, Manuel is passionate about football in Asia. We are delighted to have him amidst us and welcome him onboard.”
On joining the team, Manuel Friedrich said, “I am delighted to play for the Mumbai franchise and be part of the exciting inaugural season of the Indian Super League. Playing in Asia has always been on my mind and I am thrilled to be part of the Mumbai team. I look forward to being in India and doing my best for the squad. The presence of a number of skilled Indian and international players will make the contest very exciting indeed.”
The talented central defender began his career at SG Guldental, making his professional debut with Mainz, which he joined in 1995. In 2000, he made his competition debut, in a home match against FC Energie Cottbus. Following this, Friedrich became known as a defensive stalwart, scoring an astonishing eight goals as Mainz finished fourth, just one point shy of promotion.
Attracting attention from the Bundesliga thanks to his stellar performances, he signed with SV Werder Bremen in 2002 and participated in a number of successful matches including the team’s 2003–04 Bundesliga victory.
In early 2004, Friedrich returned to Mainz, still contributing through17 matches en route to promotion to the Bundesliga. In May that year, he scored one of four goals in the league, netting the second in the decisive 3–0 home win against SV Eintracht Trier 05 on the final day of the campaign. In the following three seasons combined, he rarely missed a game.
As a brilliant defensive unit, in 2007, he moved to Bayer Leverkusen, contributing to consecutive home wins against Karlsruher SC and VfL Bochum. He scored ten league goals in his first three seasons combined and was part of the squad that finished as runners-up at the DFB-Pokal (German Cup). Friedrich could only appear in 19 games in 2010–11 due to injury, with Leverkusen finishing in second position and qualifying to the Champions League. In Europe's premier club competition, on 23rd November 2011, he headed home in the last minute to help the hosts come from behind against Chelsea FC to win it 2-1.
The Bad Kreuznach born player joined Borussia Dortmund in November 2013 and made his debut playing against FC Bayern Munich. He scored his first goal for BVB in February 2014, netting his team's third in a 5-1 away demolition of former club Werder Bremen. This was also his 16th goal in the German top division.
With the signing, the Mumbai City FC have started building a competitive squad for the tournament, which kick-starts in October 2014.