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Friedel triumphs over Spurs and U.S. rival Keller

© Reuters 2002

By Bill Barclay

CARDIFF, Feb 25 (Reuters) - Brad Friedel staked a strong claim for the U.S. World Cup goalkeeper's jersey with his outstanding display in Blackburn Rovers' League Cup final triumph on Sunday.

Man-of-the-match Friedel made superb saves to deny Tottenham Hotspur striker Les Ferdinand three times from point blank range in the 2-1 victory at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium on Sunday.

His personal triumph was made all the sweeter by the fact that his main rival for the U.S. jersey, Kasey Keller, could only watch from the Spurs substitutes' bench.

But amid the accolades, Friedel kept a sense of perspective.

"Whenever you win something at the present time it is your best moment in football," said the former Liverpool goalkeeper.

"I've had a few good moments. I've been fortunate enough to play in two World Cups and two Olympics. That's for your country and that's a very big honour.

"One of the biggest games of my life was the game we played shortly after the September 11 disaster, against Jamaica for the U.S. team.

"That qualified us for the World Cup as it turns out." In South Korea and Japan the United States have a real chance of progressing from group D, where they face Portugal, hosts South Korea and Poland.

While Keller seems unable to get a game in the Spurs first team, Friedel is first choice at Blackburn and enjoys a good working relationship with Graeme Souness, for whom he also played at Turkish club Galatasaray.

"We both respect one another in a working capacity," said Friedel of Souness who has as fearsome a reputation as manager as he did as a player for Liverpool and Scotland.

"He knows what I'm capable of and I know what he's capable of," said Friedel. "Don't get me wrong. If he feels I've made a mistake he lets me know very sharpish.

"But that's the way a manager should act."

Reports provided by

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