Brad Friedel epitomized both saving grace and stamina on the soccer field.
For more than a quarter century he staked his claim as one of the top goalkeepers in the collegiate, professional and international ranks. The 6-3 keeper, who switched from forward to the goalmouth growing up in Bay Village, holds the record for playing in 310 consecutive games in England’s highly-competitive Premier League with teams Blackburn, Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur from 1998 to 2015.
Beginning with an NCAA national championship at UCLA in 1990, he earned collegiate honors through 1992 as he won the Hermann Trophy as a junior before opting for a professional career. After stints in Scotland, Denmark and Ireland, he was Major League Soccer’s Goalkeeper of the Year with the Columbus Crew in 1997. That opened the opportunity to play in England, initially with Liverpool and eventually as a starter with Blackburn in 2000 to begin his Premier League reign.
In his first season with Blackburn, he helped the Rovers return to the top division Premier League. He was Blackburn’s player of the year when he had 15 shutouts during the 2002-03 season.
He also played for the United States national team in the 1992 Olympics and in three World Cups. He was dubbed “the human wall” for his outstanding work during the 2002 World Cup as the U.S. reached the quarterfinals with stirring wins against Portugal and Mexico along the way.
He totaled 82 games for the national team from 1992 to 2005.
Before concentrating on soccer, Friedel was an all-state basketball selection at Bay, where he also played tennis. He was the school’s athlete of the year as a senior in 1990. Later that year he was invited to walk-on the UCLA basketball team as freshman.
Hoping to further establish the game at home, he founded the non-profit Premier Soccer Academy in Lorain for youth from 2007-2011. In 2016, he was named head coach of the United States Under-19 team.