American Soccer goaltender Tim Howard has a new book coming out next week, and a few excerpts from 'The Keeper' have been made available that suggest it might be worth a read.
Howard goes into detail over the painstaking process of moving to Europe from the MLS in the early 2000s, and how he had to take a pay-cut to join Manchester United, but also interesting are Howard's claims of how Brad Friedel not only refused to give a character reference on his behalf, but actually tried to block the transfer from happening.
I needed character references from other players. Manchester United asked former U.S. captain John Harkes, the first American to play in the Premier League, and they asked Kasey Keller and Brad Friedel, among others. Most signed without question.
However, Man U told us that Friedel had refused to submit a statement on my behalf.
"You're kidding me," I said. Friedel was among what was then a handful of American players in the Premier League; his influence was huge. Having himself been denied several times, he understood better than anyone exactly what was at stake. Why wouldn't he vouch for me?
I mean, who would sabotage his own countryman like that?
Howard then spoke of a time when Friedel wished to clear the air, but proceeded only to clarify his strangely selfish behaviour:
"Oh, and one other thing," he said. He spoke casually, as if presenting it as an afterthought, "just so you know: Manchester United was interested in me at the same time. So, obviously, there was a real conflict of interest."
I thought about the way Manchester United had signed Cristiano Ronaldo within days of that preseason friendly. I had a feeling that if Manchester United wanted the pope to play in goal for them, they'd have been able to arrange that.
"Okay," I said. I wasn't going to argue with him. I shook Brad's hand, and we parted ways.
It was amicable enough. But as far as I was concerned -- and to borrow a favorite phrase from the Brits -- the guy could sod off.
So there you have it. It certainly is an interesting story, and one which has peaked our interest in Howard's new book 'The Keeper' which goes on sale on December 9th.
Brad Friedel, however, was less than pleased to see what Howard had said about him, and he has refuted the claims that the book has made by also telling ESPN:
It's complete garbage. To be honest with you, all we're looking for is an apology. We can't get the book reprinted. I'm not looking for monetary gain. I just want an apology.
There is no letter, I never sabotaged, and I never stood in the way of Tim Howard getting a work permit. This is ludicrous.