Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper Brad Friedel is demanding an apology from fellow shot-stopper Tim Howard over comments his ex-international teammate has made in his soon-to-be released book, The Keeper.
In extracts covered exclusively on ESPN FC, Howard claims that Friedel “actively tried to block” his 2003 transfer from MLS to Manchester United, after his compatriot was asked by then-US head coach Bruce Arena to sign a letter of support for him to receive a UK work permit.
With just nine US caps at the time, Howard required an appeal in order to make his switch from the MetroStars to Old Trafford, but contends that Friedel had attempted to “sabotage” the move by writing to the appeals committee to suggest that it shouldn’t go through.
"The legal team at Manchester United... told me that Brad hadn't merely refused to sign a statement on my behalf, he had actively tried to block my transfer,” Howard said.
“He'd written to the appeals committee suggesting that I shouldn't be given a work permit at all.”
Friedel, however, did not take those accusations lightly.
“It's complete garbage,” he told the website. “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.”
Friedel said the letter he was asked to sign was filled with inaccuracies which the appeals committee “would have seen through”.
“It said that I had been in direct competition with Tim Howard for the starting job on the U.S. national team for the last two years, when anyone who follows [U.S.] soccer knew it was between Kasey [Keller] and I,” he continued.
“Yes, I refused to sign that. We got the letter and said 'We have to change this, because this isn't true.' We made our changes and sent it back. They didn't like what I was going to sign, so they didn't use it. And that was the end of the matter."
The two later met in Manchester once Howard had completed his move, where Friedel tried to explain that he didn’t sign the letter as a “matter of principle”.
The Toffees star interpreted the message differently, however, writing that Friedel refused to sign the letter because he didn’t believe he had worked hard enough to get the work permit.
"That whole conversation is backward," Friedel argues. "The 'principle' that I was talking about was I couldn't sign the letter based on principle because it was full of lies."
The veteran stopper also provided ESPN FC with a letter from the PFA, backing up his claims that he didn't contact the organisation after the work permit appeal, thus disproving at least part of Howard's claims.
"I don't want to litigate against a fellow professional, against a fellow American and a goalkeeper," he stressed.
"I've seen Tim quite a few times over the last 10 years. Never once has he ever turned his shoulder or not said hello or anything, so to all of a sudden put this crap in a book, that's showing a lot of bravery. I don't get it."
Another interesting note to take from Howard's claims is Friedel's apparent revelation that United were also keen on his signature at the time, having impressed with Blackburn Rovers for three seasons, but the former American number one did not address that point.