LONDON — Back from his summer break and ready for yet another season in his age-defying footballing career, Brad Friedel is savoring every last second of his time on the pitch.
At the age of 42, the American goalkeeper retains the hunger for the preseason routines and possesses the fight to try and stay with the Tottenham team.
But the player who holds the Premier League record for the most consecutive appearances – 310 – knows he’ll have to hang up his gloves one day.
Away from the pitch, Friedel is spending time back in the classroom, earning coaching qualifications and planning for the future.
“Whether it’s coaching or management or technical director, I don’t know,” Friedel said in an interview with The Associated Press on Monday. “We have to wait to see if someone wants me to do it. But right now I still have my playing head on.”
The target is still challenging Hugo Lloris for the spot between the posts when the new season begins in August.
“My body feels great, it feels the same as it has done the last 10 years or so, so we’ll see how it keeps going,” Friedel said after being fitted out in Tottenham’s new Under Armour jersey.
“I still want to play until I can’t play anymore, but I don’t want to be a situation where I am done playing and I need to spend two, three years on getting my badges.”
Friedel will have a vast knowledge base to take into dugout one day. His playing career includes the Columbus Crew in his homeland, Galatasaray in Turkey and Brondby in Denmark before making the move to England in 1997. After three years at Liverpool came eight seasons at Blackburn and three at Aston Villa before being enticed by Tottenham in 2011.
Both seasons he’s played at Tottenham have resulted in just missing out on qualifying for the Champions League.
In 2011-12, the crucial fourth place was secured but Spurs’ spot was taken by Chelsea after their London rivals finished outside of the top four but qualified for the Champions League by winning the competition.
Last season, when Friedel featured in just 11 out of 38 Premier League games, Tottenham frustratingly finished fifth after spending most of the season in the top four.
Friedel, though, has been told that there will be investment in the squad to ensure it can try and reach Europe’s elite competition again.
“After meeting on numerous times with a few of the board members, they are ambitious and they will try to strengthen the squad,” Friedel said. “We went out to the Bahamas (for a friendly in May) with Mr. Lewis, the owner, and he showed us exactly how ambitious he is for the club ... and how much he wants us to win and be successful.”
Tottenham has started early on its transfer activity, signing 24-year-old Brazil midfielder Paulinho from Corinthians in the past week, while star forward Gareth Bale looks set to stay at White Hart Lane.
“The season should be very exciting for us — we look to be building and making our squad stronger and stronger,” Friedel said. “We are not a million miles away from reaching some of our goals. We also want to try to win some silverware in one of the cups.”
After the 26-year-old Lloris forced his way into the league team in November, Friedel’s appearances were largely limited to the FA Cup and Europa League.
“I knew that role was coming when I signed my contract (in December),” said Friedel, who plays alongside compatriot Clint Dempsey.
Having made the last of his 82 appearances for the U.S. in 2005, Friedel has been watching from afar as the national team chases a spot at the 2014 World Cup.
After criticism of Jurgen Klinsmann’s coaching methods and leadership, the team appears to be back on track to qualify for Brazil.
In its six-team CONCACAF qualifying group, the U.S. is two points ahead of Costa Rica and five in front of Mexico with four games remaining. The top three teams qualify automatically.
“I have seen a team that went from being a little bit with their backs to the wall to now being in pole position and looking to qualify with ease,” Friedel said. “Whatever ideas and tactics (Klinsmann) is implementing are now working and they are now working very well.”
One day it could be Friedel in charge of the national team.
“My mind is open to anything in the future,” Friedel said. “But then my mind is strictly on playing still at this moment in time.”
For the next season at least.
“I’ll see how my body feels in January and we’ll go from there,” the Ohio native said.