Football: Liverpool win appeal over Friedel's work permit

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The Independent Online
Liverpool's persistence paid off yesterday when they secured a work permit for the United States international goalkeeper, Brad Friedel. As Paul Walker reports, the present incumbent, David James, will shortly find his position under threat.

Brad Friedel will arrive at Anfield next week aiming to take the Liverpool goalkeeping jersey off David James' back.

Liverpool have finally won their appeal against a Department of Employment decision to refuse the 26-year-old a work permit. It ends a three-month saga, with Liverpool wanting to buy Friedel from American club Columbus Crew for pounds 1m. The DOE rejected the application a fortnight ago and Liverpool launched an appeal.

Friedel must now play in 75 per cent of Liverpool's matches this season to have his permit reissued, so it is clear Liverpool see him as a serious candidate to take over from James. His original application was rejected because the DOE did not feel that the player had appeared in 75 per cent of the United States' competitive games in the past year.

But the percentage was so close, believed to be 72 per cent, that further information about the games supplied by Liverpool has persuaded the Government to change their mind.

"When I heard the application had at first been turned down I must admit I was in tears," Friedel said, "but the first person on the phone was [Liverpool manager] Roy Evans saying they would battle on."

Friedel has played for Brondby and Galatasaray, but has seen work permit applications for Newcastle, Sunderland and Southampton rejected.

The Manchester United manager, Alex Ferguson, says he wants Jordi Cruyff to stay at Old Trafford. The Dutchman has made only a handful of appearances this season and has been linked with a move to Spanish club Deportivo La Coruna. Ferguson, though, said no one from Deportivo has contacted him and that Cruyff is still part of his plans.

"We're allowed 25 players for the European Champions' League and he's one of them," Ferguson said.

Crystal Palace are ready to give Tomas Brolin a chance to resurrect his career. Brolin moved to Leeds from Parma in 1995 but he failed to shine. Howard Wilkinson and his successor, George Graham, struggled to control Brolin amid reports of weight and attitude problems and he has not played since leaving Elland Road.

Napoli have agreed terms with Derby County for Aljosa Asanovic. Though the fee had not yet been agreed by yesterday evening, the Croatian midfielder may make his debut tomorrow.

Romario looks set to get his wish with a transfer back to Flamengo, according to Spanish papers yesterday. The Brazilian side have agreed an initial fee of 525m pesetas [pounds 2.2m] with his present club, Valencia.

Ronaldo has won the Golden Ball European Footballer of the Year award, judged by France Football magazine. Internazionale's Brazilian striker polled most votes, ahead of Real Madrid's Yugoslav striker, Pedrag Mijatovic, and Juventus' Frenchman, Zinedine Zidane. Arsenal's Dutch forward, Dennis Bergkamp, finished fourth.

The former Grimsby Town forward, Ivano Bonetti, has accepted undisclosed damages from the club and former manager, Brian Laws, in settlement of his High Court assault claim.

Bonetti's cheekbone was broken by Laws in a dressing-room incident in February 1996, following a 3-2 defeat by Luton Town. Laws admitted causing the injury but claimed he had acted in self-defence and that Bonetti had thrown chicken at him.