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100 Meters to Holte

So Brad Friedel wrote a book. With Malcolm McClean, but you can certainly tell that this wasn't a ghostwritten football autobiography; this was actually Brad forming some sentences. However, I'm confident in saying it was better written than, say, The Da Vinci Code, and so I thought I'd give it a quick review here.

Thinking Outside the Box: My Journey In Search of the Beautiful Game

Brad Friedel has started every Premier League match this season, yet he doesn't get a lot of attention. Criticism, certainly, as it's far easier to pick up his mistakes than his often-flawless saves. But as a couple of Cup mistakes by Brad 2.0 showed, we are quite lucky to have Brad 1 in our corner. Or box, if you will. And what much of the book focuses on is how hard he had to work to get to a top side.

Admittedly, there are not a lot of surprises in Friedel's book, even to someone who's been paying attention to football for less than two years. In fact, Brad and I became Villans around the same time. There are some interesting insights to the politics behind the game, particularly with regards to work permits in England. Friedel also exalts some players that fans love to hate, and gives perspective on competing for a starting keeper position.

Overall, though, the book is less about football than about a genuinely decent individual with an excellent work ethic--a small-town boy done good, a hero for Americans. Friedel follows a stringent diet, doesn't drink or do drugs, and doesn't chase women. In that respect, he's quite unusual among footballers. Much of the money he's earned off salary and sponsorship deals is put toward his football academy, Premier Soccer Academies.  This is the type of book you give to a strong footballer who is entering high school or heading off to college, hoping they'll be struck by a bit of inspiration. While at some points in the book I just wanted him to tell a revealing story or give us some juicy dirt on a teammate, Friedel clearly has a strong moral code, and in the end it made me appreciate his presence in Villa's goal even more.