Inter Milan v Tottenham: Brad Friedel's quest for Europa League trophy is family affair
Spurs take a 3-0 advantage to the San Siro
Thursday 14 March 2013
Even for a 41-year-old, professional football can bring new experiences. After a career spanning three decades, Brad Friedel will play a competitive match at San Siro for the first time tomorrow night, and the American says he has his mother to thank for his longevity.
Friedel aims to help Tottenham qualify for the quarter-finals of the Europa League at the expense of Internazionale, which they will achieve if they can protect a 3-0 lead from last week's first leg.
Hugo Lloris is Spurs' first-choice goalkeeper but head coach Andre Villas-Boas has selected Friedel for recent European matches, and he has played well enough to earn a contract until the end of the next season. If fulfilled, it would take Friedel, already the oldest player ever to play for Spurs, beyond his 43rd birthday.
"I was built like my mum, Sue," he said. "She is 70 but she is still a physical-education teacher in Cleveland, Ohio, and she shows no signs of wanting to stop. She teaches all the different sports in the United States, from volleyball to basketball, and she is very active in the lessons. If you didn't know she was 70, you would never guess it.
"I don't feel any differently. Whenever I go for a medical, it is a very thin piece of paper."
Sadly for the Friedel family, Brad's father, Len, has not been so lucky. "My dad has had a tough go of life when it comes to illness and injury," Friedel revealed. "He has Parkinson's Disease. He has had a stroke. He has a defibrillator and a three-pronged pacemaker fitted for his heart.
"That has been tough at times, because we are a close family. At the moment, things are going okay for him, but there have been times when it has been very bad and I have had to take emergency flights home. My mum comes back and forth but my dad can no longer fly across from America."
The family follow their son's career closely and progress to the final of the Europa League would be a considerable source of pride. If Spurs can negotiate their way through tomorrow night's test in Italy, only four matches would stand between them and the decider on 15 May in Amsterdam.
"From the first day the manager said one of his targets was the Europa League, and you can tell that from his team selection," said Friedel. "We take it very seriously and each one of us would love to lift a trophy.
"Hopefully we will have more matches after tonight's and hopefully we can be there in May, lifting the trophy. It would mean a lot to us." Aaron Lennon and Emmanuel Adebayor have travelled after recovering from injuries but Clint Dempsey stayed in London with a calf problem.
TV ITV 4.
KO 6pm, San Siro. First leg Spurs 3-0 Inter.
Referee I Bebek (Cro).
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