Tim Howard has announced that he will alter future editions of his just-published book, in response to Brad Friedel's complaint that the book unfairly and inaccurately claims that Friedel attempted to block Howard's move to the Premier League. This decade-old goalkeeper feud still burns brightly, apparently.
At issue was Howard's 2003 transfer from MLS to Manchester United, something for which he'd need a ton of documents to obtain a work permit. Here's how Howard described it in his book, released earlier this month:
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?
The legal team at Manchester United — the ones who had originally applied for my papers — had already told me that Brad hadn't merely refused to sign a statement on my behalf, he had actively tried to block my transfer. He'd written to the appeals committee suggesting that I shouldn't be given a work permit at all.
[Friedel] showed me one document after another as he spoke without a pause. I glanced at the papers and passed them back. The crux of his presentation was this: if he'd had this much trouble getting a work permit, why should he make it easy for me?
"It's a matter of principle, you see," he said.
"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."
That's a pretty serious allegation. Once Friedel heard about Howard's account, he immediately disputed it and demanded an apology. He said all that happened was that he had requested changes to a letter of support describing Howard's accomplishments, because it was inaccurate, and once the alterations were made he happily signed. Anything else, Friedel said, just didn't happen.
"There is no letter," he said. "I never sabotaged, and I never stood in the way of Tim Howard getting a work permit. This is ludicrous."
Friedel also produced a letter from the Professional Footballers' Association, backing up his contention. He said he didn't want to take this to court—but he very specifically did not rule it out.
Well, whatever behind-the-scenes negotiating went on has borne fruit. Howard tweeted this statement yesterday:
If you bought the first edition of The Keeper, in which Howard shits on and possibly defames Brad Friedel, congratulations! You own yourself a collector's item.