Youth and college
Born in Lakewood, Ohio, Friedel grew up in
Bay Village, where he attended Westerly Elementary School, Bay Middle School and
Bay High School. Growing up, Friedel played several sports, including soccer,
tennis, and excelled at all three. He earned Bay High's Outstanding Athlete of the Year award in 1989. As an All-State basketball player in Ohio, he was invited to try out as a
basketball team in 1990. He began as a
on his youth soccer team before moving into
. Friedel graduated from Bay High in 1989.
 In 2007, he was inducted into the Bay High Hall of Fame.
college soccer at the
University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). In 1990, he kept goal for the Bruins to the
NCAA championship. He was selected as the
first team All-American goalkeeper in 1991 and 1992, and won the
Hermann Trophy in 1993 as the top collegiate soccer player.
Soccer America magazine named Friedel to its
College Team of the Century.
Friedel left UCLA early to pursue a professional career. He began by attempting to sign with
Nottingham Forest under
Brian Clough, but was denied a
work permit, the first in several such failed attempts to move to England.
 Following a brief trial in Scotland with
 Friedel instead registered with the
United States Soccer Federation (USSF) and played exclusively with the
United States national team as it prepared for the
1994 FIFA World Cup. Following the end of the World Cup, Friedel began searching for a professional club.
Friedel was signed by manager
Kevin Keegan of
 but was again denied a work permit.
 While awaiting approval from the British authorities, he practiced with Newcastle as an on-loan player from the USSF. When the work permit was not approved, Friedel negotiated a loan from the USSF to
Danish Superliga club
 He stayed with that club for several months in 1995, as back-up to
Mogens Krogh, without playing in any games.
 Friedel remained with Brøndby until he returned to the U.S. to rejoin the national team, then preparing for the
1995 U.S. Cup and
After the two tournaments, Friedel attempted a third time to join an English club, this time
 While awaiting a decision regarding his latest application for a work permit, Friedel spent time training with
League of Ireland side
St. Patrick's Athletic, who were managed at the time by
, a friend of Sunderland manager
 When Friedel again failed to receive a British work permit, his agent negotiated a $1.1 million transfer from the USSF to leading
in 1995. Galatasaray were managed by Friedel's future
Blackburn Rovers manager
Graeme Souness. In July 1996, following the end of the Turkish season, Friedel moved to the
Columbus Crew of
Major League Soccer (MLS). In February 1997, he signed a three-year contract with the Crew as he was named the team's starter.
 That season, he was selected to the
MLS Best XI and named the
MLS Goalkeeper of the Year.
Friedel completed a transfer to
Liverpool, worth £1.7 million, in 1997. On December 23, 1997, Liverpool gained a work permit for Friedel on appeal after the first request was denied.
 He made his debut against
Aston Villa on February 28, 1998. While Friedel had some initial success with the Reds, he soon had a difficult time, managing just over 30 games in almost three years, including two appearances in the
UEFA Cup, as he sat behind first
Friedel warming up for Blackburn Rovers
Friedel was signed to
Blackburn Rovers by
Graeme Souness on a
free transfer in November 2000 after a work permit was secured.
Joining during Rovers' promotion-winning
, Friedel's consistently-assured performances helped ensure Blackburn's return to the Premiership and then consolidate their top division status in the following seasons.
Friedel's memorable performances for Blackburn include playing against
Tottenham Hotspur in the
League Cup Final in early 2002, when he was named
Man of the Match. In a 1–2 win over
Highbury, Friedel made several immense saves and was only beaten by a deflected
free kick. A stunning performance away at
Gordon Strachan to liken him to
Superman: "Friedel must have got changed in a telephone box. I wouldn't be surprised if when he takes his shirt off there's a blue jersey with an 'S' on underneath it."
At the end of the
, Friedel's 15
earned him Blackburn's Player of the Year award, as well as selection to the Premiership Starting XI. On February 21, 2004, in an away game against
Charlton Athletic, Friedel scored a goal from open play in the 90th minute, from a corner kick. Friedel's goal equalized the game at 2–2, but seconds later Charlton scored again through
Claus Jensen, and went on to win the match 3–2.
 He became just the second goalkeeper in Premier League history (excluding own goals) to score, after
Peter Schmeichel for Aston Villa in 2001.
Friedel extended his contract with Blackburn Rovers on April 14, 2006, stating his love for the club as a reason.
 Two years later, on February 5, 2008, he again signed an extension to his Rovers contract, stating that, "I am delighted to have extended the agreement. It was not a difficult decision to make. Blackburn Rovers is home to me. This is my club and I have a special affinity with it."
 He would, however, leave the club at the end of that season to join Aston Villa, just two league appearances short of
Terry Gennoe's club record of 289 for a goalkeeper.
Friedel playing for Aston Villa.
Friedel had asked Blackburn Rovers for permission to let him speak with Aston Villa if an offer was accepted, with
Manchester City reportedly interested in signing the American. The club accepted a transfer bid for Friedel, thought to be in the region of £2.5 million, subject to Blackburn themselves having a bid accepted for a replacement goalkeeper.
Aston Villa held talks with Brad Friedel on July 25, 2008. Friedel signed a three-year contract with Aston Villa the day after. Friedel was unveiled at
half-time during Aston Villa's
Intertoto Cup match against
He made his debut against
Reading on August 2 at the
Madejski Stadium. Just ten minutes in, the hosts were awarded a penalty, which Friedel then saved. His competitive debut came in the
UEFA Cup second qualifying round, first leg, against
Hafnarfjorður away from home. Villa won the match 4–1. Friedel played his first Premiership match for Aston Villa on August 17, 2008, the first match for Aston Villa in the
2008–09 season, in which Villa beat Manchester City 4–2 at home.
He broke the record for continuous games played in the Premier League on November 30, 2008, after his 167th finished in a 0–0 draw with
Fulham. He was sent off against former club Liverpool at
Anfield by referee
Martin Atkinson. Liverpool were awarded a penalty that
Steven Gerrard converted against Villa's second-choice goalkeeper,
Brad Guzan. Friedel's
red card, which he received on the Sunday beforehand, was overturned by the FA on March 24, meaning that he was able to continue his streak of consecutive Premiership appearances. On January 16, 2011, he reached the landmark of 250 consecutive league games.
Friedel became the oldest player ever to play for
Aston Villa following their 3–1 loss to
Manchester United on February 1, 2011.
Friedel's contract with Aston Villa expired after the 2010–11 season. On June 3, 2011,
Tottenham Hotspur announced that they had signed Friedel on a two-year deal.
 On August 22, 2011, Friedel started in goal for Tottenham at
Old Trafford against Manchester United, after Tottenham's first home fixture of the season against
Everton the previous week was rescheduled due to
rioting in North London. This meant that Friedel further extended his run of consecutive games in the Premier League after his transfer from Aston Villa.
 During the
2011–12 campaign, Friedel also became the oldest player to make an appearance in the Premier League.
The arrival of the
's goalkeeper and captain,
Hugo Lloris, to the end of the
cast some doubt on Friedel's status as Tottenham's first-choice goalkeeper for the
2012–13 season. However, following an impressive display by Friedel against
Norwich on September 1, 2012, manager
André Villas-Boas said that Friedel would remain number one.
 Friedel's run of 310 consecutive Premier League games was ended on October 7, 2012, when he was named on the bench behind Lloris against Aston Villa.
 Friedel, however, returned in goal for the next match on October 20, 2012, against
On December 26, 2012, it was announced that Friedel had signed a new contract with Spurs, keeping him at the club until 2014.
Following Lloris' failure to fully recover from a
head injury, Friedel returned to the starting lineup in a league match on November 10, 2013, but was unable to prevent Tottenham from losing 1–0 to
Newcastle United, with the winning goal being scored by
On June 9, 2014, Friedel signed a one-year contract extension with Tottenham, which would keep him at the club until 2015. In addition, Friedel also became a club ambassador, focusing on Tottenham's presence in the
On May 14, 2015, Friedel announced that he would be retiring at the end of the
He continues to serve the club as a club ambassador in the United States.
Friedel is the fourth-most
goalkeeper in U.S. national team history, and gained his first international cap against
Canada in 1992, a game in which he managed to keep a
. He was the first-choice goalkeeper for the U.S
1992 Olympic team; however, he was unable to beat out
Tony Meola as first-choice keeper for the U.S. team at the
1994 World Cup. His chance came, and Friedel made his World Cup debut, in the
1998 World Cup, where he conceded one goal as the U.S. lost to
Yugoslavia. He lived up to his growing reputation in the
2002 World Cup as the U.S. went on a surprising run to the quarter-finals, which included a 3–2 victory over
in group play, and a 2–0 second-round win over arch-rival
before a loss to
(the eventual runner-up). He also became the first keeper to save two
during regular play (as opposed to
) in a World Cup finals tournament since 1974. He was dubbed "The Human Wall" by fans during the spectacular 2002 World Cup run.
Friedel announced his retirement from international soccer on February 7, 2005.