Whilst Friedel was still at UCLA, the Head Coach at the time was Sigi Schmid. Schmid, who later went on to coach USA’s Under-20’s, LA Galaxy, Columbus Crew, and now, Seattle Sounders FC; recommended Friedel to the US coaches. Soon afterward, he was called up to the Under-23’s National team to play in the qualification rounds for the Barcelona Olympics. Over the next two years he established himself as the Under-23’s No 1, and at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics; he represented the US Men’s Olympic team. Although the team cruised through the qualification process, they finished 1-1-1 in the group stage and were eliminated.
After his performances at the Olympics, he was called up to the senior squad, and on September 3rd, 1992, at the age of 20, he made his debut in Saint John, New Brunswick, against the Canadian National team. He finished with a clean sheet as the US went on to win 2-0.
Friedel joined the National team training camp as the country prepared to host the World Cup, with no men’s professional league in existence. At the age of 22, he was selected for the squad that represented the US as the host country at the 1994 World Cup.
Friedel was chosen again for the National team as it qualified for France 98. Although a disappointing tournament for the US, as they were eliminated at the group stage, Friedel made his World Cup Finals debut in a 2-1 loss to Yugoslavia.
In 2000, he agreed to play as an overage player for the US Under-23 team at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. There, he helped the US reach the Quarter Finals.
Having established himself as the No. 1 goalkeeper during qualification for the 2002 World Cup, Friedel went on to be selected for his third World Cup appearance in Japan – South Korea. He performed brilliantly, helping the US reach the Quarter Finals for the first time. US media and fans named him the “Human Wall” as he became the first goalkeeper to save two penalty kicks in normal time since 1974.
In 2005 Friedel retired from international soccer having amassed 82 caps, so that he could dedicate more time to his family and concentrate on his club career.
In 1995 he signed with the top Turkish club Galatasary. Friedel’s time in Turkey opened his eyes to a new, crazy soccer world. As an American, Friedel grew up in an environment where soccer was not a mainstream sport. Living and playing in Turkey, Brad became accustomed to a culture where soccer was seen almost as a religion, especially in Istanbul, where the Besiktas and Galatasary rivalry is infamous.
At each Galatasary training session there were usually about 2,000 fans watching. Paparaazzi were everywhere, waiting to take his picture and Friedel quickly adapted to being in the spotlight.
In his first season he helped the club win the 1995/96 Turkish Cup. Friedel stated, “I think my time in Turkey in the mid-nineties, at Galatasaray, was really important. Experience is crucial when it comes to coping with pressure and I think I developed that skin of leather when I was out there, early in my career,” he said.
In 1997 he left Galatasaray and returned home to Ohio to play for the Columbus Crew in the newly formed Major League Soccer (MLS). When Brad arrived, the Crew sat at the bottom of the League table. He, along with several other important signings, helped bring a winning attitude to the team, taking the Crew to the playoffs by winning nine straight games and keeping seven clean sheets.
That year, Friedel was selected to the MLS Best XI and named the MLS Goalkeeper of the Year. His performances for the Crew and the US National team led to him fulfilling his dream, to play in the English Premier League.
In December 1997, Friedel signed with Liverpool. On February 28th, 1998, at age 26, he made his Premier League debut for the Reds against Aston Villa and by the following season Friedel was named Liverpool’s starting goalkeeper. Although he performed well for Liverpool, the team was inconsistent and following the hiring of Gérard Houllier as the manager, the club signed Sander Westervel as its No. 1 goalkeeper.
Friedel decided his opportunities at Anfield would be limited and in 2000 he signed with the Blackburn Rovers. He finished with 31 appearances for the Anfield club.
In 2000, Friedel signed with Blackburn Rovers. The Lancashire club, winners of the Premier League in 1994/95 had since been relegated and Friedel immediately helped them win promotion back to the top-flight in 2000/01.
At Blackburn he established himself as one of the most consistent and best goalkeepers in the Premier League. In 2002 he was a member of the Rovers team that won the League Cup, beating Tottenham Hotspur in the Final at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium, a game in which he was named Man of the Match. At the end of that season, he received one of the greatest accolades in the game, being named by his fellow professionals to the Premier League Team of the Season for 2002/03.
On August 14th, 2004 Friedel began his record-breaking run of 310 consecutive games. For the next four years Friedel would start every English Premier League game with Blackburn.
From 2000-2008 Friedel made 357 appearances with Rovers. It was for whom he would spend the longest period in his career.
After 357 appearances for Blackburn Rovers, he joined Aston Villa in 2008. There, he continued his excellent form, and his run of consecutive appearances, which had begun at the start of the 2004/05 season.
On November 30th, 2008 Friedel broke the record for continuous games played after his 167th consecutive game. For the next three years Friedel started every game for Villa and made 131 appearances. Friedel continued his consistency under the management of Martin O’Neil, helping the club finish sixth in consecutive seasons.
In the summer of 2011, Friedel joined Tottneham Hotspur on a free transfer. Harry Redknapp had signed him to be the No. 1 goalkeeper to replace Heurelho Gomes. His Tottenham debut was against Manchester United on August 22, 2011 and again, he continued his consecutive appearance streak. That season, he helped the club to fourth position in his first season – it was the joint highest place finish for the club in 21 years.
Brad continued this remarkable run of not having missed a Premier League start in over 8 years. On September 29, 2012 Brad Friedel, at age 41, started for Tottenham Hotspur when they beat Manchester United away at Old Trafford for the first time in 34 years. It was the last game in the streak of 310 consecutive English Premier League starts, shattering the previous record of 166 games.
As a testament to his talent, durability, reliability, and consistency, Coach André Villas-Boas, despite having purchased leading French International goalkeeper, Hugo Lloris for £15m from Lyon, he continued to name Friedel as his starter.