Striving to build a formidable outfit with world-class football players on board, the Mumbai Franchise of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) announced the signing of Germany’s Manuel Friedrich for the inaugural season of the upcoming league. Friedrich comes to the Mumbai Franchise with over 15 years of priceless professional experience as a top quality centre back, packed with a remarkable 413 appearances at various levels of football. He will be the very first recognizable German footballer to play in India and the only team member in the ISL to have played 2014 UEFA Champions League football.
Known to be a strong defender and acknowledged for his fantastic aerial duels, the 34-year-old will be the backbone of the Mumbai squad’s defense strategy. The team will rely on decades of experience the German footballer has gained playing in his country’s top leagues. With his abilities, he will also be an asset to the team during set pieces due to his aerial skills.
Commenting on the acquisition, team owner Ranbir Kapoor said, “Manuel Friedrich is unquestionably a highly experienced fine international centre back and we are thrilled to have him on board. As a defense stalwart, he will be a critical asset to the team. To top it all, Manuel is passionate about football in Asia. We are delighted to have him amidst us and welcome him onboard.”
On joining the team, Manuel Friedrich said, “I am delighted to play for the Mumbai Franchise and be part of the exciting inaugural season of the Indian Super League. Playing in Asia has always been on my mind and I am thrilled to be part of the Mumbai team. I look forward to being in India and doing my best for the squad. The presence of a number of skilled Indian and international players will make the contest very exciting indeed.”
Apart from nine international appearances for his home country, Friedrich has represented clubs such as Borussia Dortmund, Bayer 04 Leverkusen, Werder Bremen and FSV Mainz 05 during his career. Playing for Borussia Dortmund during the 2014 UEFA Champions League, Friedrich was part of the playing eleven during its match against Real Madrid at their Signal Iduna Park.
The talented central defender began his career at SG Guldental 07, making his professional debut with Mainz, which he joined in 1995. In 2000, he made his competition debut, in a home match against FC Energie Cottbus. Following this, Friedrich became known as a defensive stalwart, scoring an astonishing eight goals as Mainz finished fourth, just one point shy of promotion.
Attracting attention from the Bundesliga thanks to his stellar performances, he signed with SV Werder Bremen in 2002 and participated in a number of successful matches including the team’s 2003-04 Bundesliga victory.
In early 2004, Friedrich returned to Mainz, still contributing with 17 matches en route to top-level promotion. In May that year, he scored one of four goals in the league, netting the second in the decisive 3-0 home win against SV Eintracht Trier 05 on the final day of the campaign. In the following three seasons combined, he rarely missed a game.
As a brilliant defense unit, in 2007, he moved to Bayer Leverkusen, contributing to consecutive home wins against Karlsruher SC and VfL Bochum. He scored ten league goals in his first three seasons combined and was part of the squad that finished as runners-up at the DFB-Pokal (German Cup). Friedrich could only appear in 19 games in 2010-11 due to injury, with Leverkusen finishing in second position and qualifying to the UEFA Champions League. In Europe’s premier club competition, on 23rd November 2011, he headed home in the last minute to help the hosts come from behind against Chelsea FC to win it 2-1.
The Bad Kreuznach born player joined Borussia Dortmund in November 2013 and made his debut playing against FC Bayern Munich. He scored his first goal for BVB in February 2014, netting his team’s third in a 5-1 away demolition of former club Werder Bremen. This was also his 16th goal in the German top division.
With the signing, the Mumbai Franchise has started building its competitive squad for the tournament, which kick-starts in October 2014.