Brad Friedel sat down with World Soccer Talk this week to discuss his broadcast and coaching career.
World Soccer Talk: You are one of the most decorated goalkeepers in the history of the Premier League with the most appearances – even more than the likes of Peter Schmeichel and Petr Cech. How did you make the transition to broadcasting quicker than most and been able to do both studio work and co-commentary?
Brad Friedel: I’ve been doing radio and television in England going back to when I was at Blackburn in the mid 2000’s. I’d worked on radio and television with ITV and Sky. I had worked with the likes of Martin Tyler and Jon Champion. It was not like I retired and went into broadcasting without any training. I actually found the transition to coaching more difficult. It was more of a challenge to become a coach in the first six to 12 months than the media side of things.
World Soccer Talk: How has working with J.P. Dellacamera, Rob Stone and John Strong helped shape your commentary style?
Brad Friedel: All different guys, all really good guys.
JP’s been around forever and John Strong is newer on the block. I have also had the good fortune of working with Martin Tyler and Jon Champion so I’ve worked with several of the big ones, if you would like (to call them that). Both (Dellacamera and Strong) are amazing to work with. They are seamless to work with. You could have gone six months not working with one of them, go into the booth and they know exactly how to feed things to you, how exactly to work with you and it’s not easy to have a voice like theirs. It’s easier to call a great game but when a game isn’t good, you cannot lie, but those guys all have a way with words to keep the viewer intrigued. So very very good and the better those guys are the easier it is for us to do our job.
World Soccer Talk: You played for some of the best coaches in English football. Sparky (Mark Hughes), Graeme Souness, Martin O’Neill, Harry Redknapp and Mauricio Pochettino, who’s maybe the best manager now in the English game. How have those coaches shaped your coaching style?
Brad Friedel: It changes it drastically. Gathering information over all the years and taking my own individuality about what I also think about the game. It involves taking the best from all those greats you name and processing the information and creating a style. So much of this is about asking questions, becoming a sponge. When you aren’t sure about something, go and ask. A lot of those names you just mentioned I stay in touch with today. You can’t be shy when learning the game and you’ll never stop learning in the game. Even the best of the best learn constantly. Sir Alex Ferguson, arguably the best of all time, never stopped learning until the day he retired. I was very very fortunate that I was able to play with some of those coaches and very fortunate to continue to have a relationship today with them.
World Soccer Talk: Spurs, your former club are touring the US right now. They don’t have the resources of the other top clubs (in England) but somehow, some way Mauricio Pochettino has been able to bleed in a lot of young players yet keep the club in the top four the last two years in an incredibly competitive league at the top. What are your expectations for the upcoming season and how does Pochettino do it?
Brad Friedel: My expectation is that they’ll fight for the league title. You say “somehow, some way.” It’s not an accident, not a mistake – Mauricio is arguably the finest young manager out there. Along with John McDermott who I think is one the very best youth developers of footballing talent in the entire world – he is the academy director there. They work closely together. Mauricio has no problem giving a young player the opportunity to do well, if he thinks they are ready. No they don’t pay the wages or the transfer fees of some of the other teams. They don’t need to. That’s because of the way Mauricio and John train the players. That’s both mentally and physically. He (Pochettino) is a truly a gem, and if he really needed someone and needed to press to get someone and needed to go to Daniel Levy and the board, I am sure they would back him. But he’s very particular about who he wants to bring into the club. If he isn’t sure that person is going to make the club better than he will promote one of the academy players and make them better (instead). It was only a year at the end of my career, but it was such a valuable year for me on the coaching front and I was working on my pro license with one of his assistants. I learned an incredible amount from that entire staff.
World Soccer Talk: Tell us a little bit about the program you are working on with Allstate and the company’s involvement with the Gold Cup?
Brad Friedel: Two things with Allstate- this is the second time they’ve sponsored the Gold Cup and have sponsored soccer in the USA for seven or eight years now. It’s important for us to have sponsors invested in the game from the grassroots and youth level on up to the national team and the senior professional level.
The other thing is that they are going around to cities around the country, inner cities and areas where children aren’t as privileged and putting in astroturf and grass fields working with community centers, schools and other local institutions. It not only helps players have a place to play but also gives coaches a place to coach. Myself and Adolfo Rios have been able to go in and do clinics with the players and coaches and interacting with the teachers and school superintendents, things like that.
It’s been a very important project.
World Soccer Talk: As we develop the infrastructure in this country for this sport, how important is it that we get big corporate sponsorship like this that engages during the course of the year?
Brad Friedel: Anytime I can help out anywhere in the sport domestically from grassroots to the professional game, I am willing to do it. I’m currently the U-19 coach with the (US Men’s) National Team and spent four years coaching in the Tottenham academy and anytime someone is willing to invest in the grassroots of the game and promote enjoyment of the game I am all for it.
Brad Friedel along with Adolfo Rios is working with Allstate a CONCACAF Gold Cup sponsor ahead of Wednesday’s final between the US and Jamaica on a unique grassroots project. In the Bay Area, Allstate is working to repair grass, replace goals, install benches and more at Pinto Lake County Park for local youth soccer players. Following the refurbishment, local players from Aztecas Youth Soccer Academy will be invited to test out their new upgraded facilities during a special goalkeeping clinic hosted by Brad Friedel and Adolfo Rios.