Mauricio Pochettino has heaped praise on the retiring Brad Friedel, but the Tottenham head coach suggested there was unlikely to be a sentimental final appearance for the veteran goalkeeper.
After a career spanning three decades, the the American, who turns 44 on Monday, is at last calling time on his playing career, 17 years after first arriving in England.
The former Liverpool, Blackburn and Aston Villa goalkeeper is this summer hanging up his gloves and returning to the United States, where he will become an analyst, pundit and co-commentator for Fox Sports as well as Tottenham’s club ambassador there.
Friedel, capped 82 times at international level, may not have managed a single minute since Pochettino arrived as head coach last summer, yet the Argentinian only had praise for the outgoing keeper.
“It’s a very special moment for him,” he said. “It’s been a real pleasure to work with him and to know him because he’s a top man, a top professional and it was fantastic to spend time with him this season.
“It’s not easy at 44, but all his career he was very professional, he was one of the best keepers in England.
“I think he’s crossed the line now because he wants to, not because his body says, ‘I cannot play any more’. He’s in a very good level in his physical condition.”
Friedel may not have made it off the bench this season, but the news of his retirement has brought with it an understandable clamour from some for him to get a final run-out at Spurs.
Saturday’s match against embattled Hull and the trip to Everton are the only opportunities remaining, but Pochettino indicated the American might not get a farewell game.
“Maybe, you never know, in football you never know,” he said. “All players are always in my plans. It’s not easy, but you never know
“Always we need to be professional. We have our emotion, but always in football you need to take a decision as a professional and we always need to show we are professional and this is the way we always take.”
While Friedel is retiring, Pochettino predicted English football had not seen this last of him.
The keeper has worked towards his coaching badges and the Spurs boss believes the goalkeeper would make a good manager.
“Yes, why not? Brad is a very clever person and with his natural energy and his leadership he can easily manage a team in the Premier League – only if he wants to, and wants to take that way in his future,” Pochettino added.
“But if he’s ready and he’s experienced – and he’s learned a lot about football in all of his career – I think it’s possible in the next few seasons he can manage and work in football.”
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