Friedel: Olympics a special event

The Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish FAs have said they do not

want to be any part of a British team at London 2012. But Friedel,

the Aston Villa goalkeeper who played in the 1992 and 2000

Olympics, said the likes of Aaron Ramsey, Gareth Bale and Jonny

Evans may never get a better chance to perform on the world stage.

He said at the Soccerex conference in Manchester: “I would advise

them to play. “I think if they are left out, in the future, because

of that decision, they would regret it. “I would hope a lot of

pressure would be put on those FAs not to keep them out. It is an

experience they should not miss. “When is it going to be here

again? Not in our lifetimes. It is the Olympics, a world event.

People have to take that into consideration. “The Olympics are

special, it is an under-23 tournament so you might not have the

same talent there as at the World Cup, but for me an Olympic gold

medal is right up there with a World Cup winner’s medal.” Friedel

pointed out that in other sports such as cricket countries play

both collectively and separately. He explained: “In cricket, the

West Indies play as the West Indies, but in football they are all

individual countries – it works in other sports, I’d like to see it

work in football.” Alan Curbishley, the former West Ham and

Charlton manager, who was on the same panel as Friedel, said a

solution needed to be found. He said: “It will be a special,

once-in-a-lifetime occasion and I would love to see a Great Britain

team with Irish and Scots and Welsh win it.”