2002 in Review: Friedelmania

February 24: After John Harkes (Sheffield Wednesday, 1991) and Kasey Keller (Leicester, 1997), goalkeeper Brad Friedel became the third American to win the English League Cup when he led Blackburn Rovers to a 2-1 victory over Tottenham.

What must the folks at England's Department of Employment and at Liverpool be thinking now? After repeatedly being denied a work permit, Brad Friedel finally landed at Liverpool in 1997 only to spend most of three seasons on the bench.

Here's a few of the accolades Friedel, who joined Blackburn in 2000, yielded in 2002:

Blackburn's official Web site on his performance in the League Cup final:

''Awesome Man of the Match.''

Blackburn manager Graeme Souness:

''I think we've got the best keeper in the country.''

Bolton boss Sam Allardyce:

''Without a doubt, the best keeper in the Premiership. ... It must have been a crushing blow for Liverpool, who have spent $20 million on two keepers, to let him go. Neither of them are as good as he is.''

Southampton's Gordon Strachan:

''Friedel must have got changed in a telephone box today. I wouldn't be surprised if when he takes his shirt off there's a blue jersey with an 'S' on underneath it.''

Agence France Presse:

''Inspirational Friedel leaps from hospital bed to Rovers' rescue.''

The People newspaper:

''The Premiership from Brad to Verse!''

Sky Sports on its online poll:

''Your Vote: Friedel is [Premiership's] top stopper.''

Headline in the Mirror:

''Shiny Happy Friedel.''

by Soccer America Editors

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