CHICAGO (Monday, April 28, 2003) - U.S. international goalkeeper Brad Friedel's exploits for both club and country have culminated in him becoming the first American ever named to the English Premier League Team of the Year. The awards banquet, held in London last night, honors the top 11 players as voted on by the Professional Footballer's Association.
Friedel has had a remarkable season in 2002-03, first leading Blackburn Rovers to the Worthington Cup trophy and earning Man of the Match honors in the process. "Big Brad" then took his shotstopping abilities to the world stage, helping guide the United States to the quarterfinals of the 2002 World Cup in Korea/Japan for the first time in 72 years. Starting all five matches in Korea, he became one of only two goalkeepers in history to have saved two penalty kicks in the first round of the World Cup.
He has been a dominating presence in the goal for Blackburn this year, appearing in 35 league matches and posting 15 shutouts, including victories against both Manchester United and Arsenal. Friedel, 31, is the second-most capped goalkeeper in U.S. history and was named the 2002 U.S. Soccer Chevy Male Athlete of the Year.
FRIEDEL COMMENTS ON THE HONOR:
- On being named to the EPL Team of the Year: "I don't play this game for individual awards, but when they do come around its very nice and you have to accept them humbly. This award means more than most because fellow players are the ones that do the voting."
- On the incredible year that he has had professionally: "It's been a very good year, there's no doubt about it. Right now we're focused on trying to qualify for the UEFA Cup. We've distanced ourselves from the teams below us, and now we're chasing Everton. For a club of our size to be able to qualify for Europe through league play would be quite an accomplishment."
- On being the first American ever named to the EPL Team of the Year: "I'm no longer thought of as a foreigner in this league, which is an achievement in itself. I think its fantastic for U.S. Soccer that any player can be named in a best 11 for a league in Europe. Regardless of who it is, it only adds to the perception that the United States is producing quality footballers."