Friday 20 April 2012
Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper Brad Friedel says he has no intention of retiring as he prepares to set a new landmark in the Barclays Premier League when they play Queens Park Rangers on Saturday.
Friedel, 40, is primed to play in an incredible 300th consecutive match in the competition, a run that stretches back to 14 August, 2004 when he played for Blackburn Rovers in a 1-1 draw with West Bromwich Albion.
"As long as I feel good I'll continue to play"
- Brad Friedel
Since then, Friedel has moved on to Aston Villa and then to Spurs last summer without missing a single League match, but although the US international is 41 on 18th May, he wants to keep playing in the top flight for as long as he possibly can.
"There's no timeframe on retiring, it's just year to year," said Friedel, who also won 82 caps for his country before calling it a day in 2005. "As long as I feel good I'll still continue to play.
"I've got a contract at Spurs for one more year after this and then we'll just assess how the body feels then.
"Did I think I would be playing for Spurs at 40, 10 years ago? Probably not, but I feel good and as long as you feel good and you can continue to perform to high standards, why not?"
Friedel's astonishing feat dwarves the next highest number of Premier League matches played in a row of 183 by Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina, while Chelsea's Frank Lampard holds the record for an outfield player with 164.
But American Friedel says he is more bothered about keeping himself fit than the tally of matches he has racked up.
"I don't really feel that this record is that outstanding," he added. "What I take pride in is that I've kept myself fit and available for selection and been fortunate enough to be chosen, which means you're obviously helping the team out.
"Could Brad play until he's 45? That's a difficult one"
- Tony Parks
"As a professional footballer, you just want to try to keep yourself as fit as possible and to play for as long as possible, as long as you're performing to high standards.
"Appearance records and the like are not an aim or a goal when you start out, but as you get older, you realise that the end's going to come sooner rather than later and then you just want to play as many games as you can.
"I think the ones that can continue to play games for a long period of time are the ones that take pride in their profession, really look after themselves and also treat the sport with a lot of respect."
Tottenham goalkeeping coach Tony Parks, who says Friedel has an "eagerness to train every day", says he doesn't think the landmark will ever be surpassed by another keeper in the Barclays Premier League.
"I don't think personally that Brad's record of 300 consecutive matches in the Premier League will be beaten by another goalkeeper," Parks told premierleague.com.
"I know keepers have that opportunity to go on a little bit longer because there isn’t as much running around to do, but it's still a phenomenal achievement in the modern game.
"Players are fit and strong, and for him to apply himself to training the way he does and keep wanting to play and have a genuine love of playing football; that sets him apart from a lot of people.
"Could he play until 45? It's a difficult one. He doesn't play or train like he's nearly 41, but football's a funny game and you can wake up one day and your legs have gone.
"It's very difficult to see that happening, but you can never say never."