Fantastic Friedel Secures Villa Future

Brad Friedel is having more influence at Villa Park than Martin O'Neill could ever have dreamt of when he signed the big keeper from Blackburn in July last year.

American man mountain Friedel was widely recognised as one of, if not the best, stoppers in the Premiership at the time and he continues to belie his age by putting in high level performances every week.

But, his influence in the Claret and Blue is not limited to on the pitch activities. The experienced custodian has had a massive impact on his understudy Brad Guzan, who refuses to make a mistake when called upon.

Friedel has been given the role of mentoring Guzan, who is actually 13 years younger than the current club No.1, and the pair now maintain a healthy rivalry.

O'Neill's main man also provides advice for the likes of Elliot Parish, who now features for the reserves, and 17 year-old Benjamin Siegrist.

Swiss stopper Siegrist recently helped his country to their greatest ever triumph at youth level as he steered them to under-17 World Cup glory in Nigeria.

The Swiss side may have not have been fancied but they stunned the host nation in the final with Siegrist picking up the Golden Gloves award for best goalkeeper in the tournament.


It was a truly brilliant achievement for the young star and testament to the hard work of goalkeeping coaches Seamus McDonagh (first team) and Rafa Gonzalez (academy).

The success of Siegrist also provides a virtual pat on the back for Guzan and, of course Friedel, who have regularly given him tips and shown him how it is done during training.

Villa manager O'Neill must be delighted with his dilemma as he now has four keepers new and old who can hold the academy, reserves and, most importantly, first team together for years to come.

O'Neill prides himself on the prospective brilliance of his side and with some guidance from the elder statesmen of the group; Villa could be in business when it comes to toppling the top four.

The Claret and Blue are already giving the big guns a run for their money and, while Manchester City continue to spend huge amounts with no guarantee of success, players like Siegrist continue to emerge in the Midlands.

But, for now, the top jersey (as they would say in Friedel's native America) rests firmly on the shoulders of the former Ewood Park hero and he has definitely earned it.