SoccerBible: Stefan Frei Talks Storelli
Oct 31, 2017
SoccerBible in conversation with Stefan Frei.
Stefan Frei is a player who stands strong as the product of dedicated hard work. A player and person who has hit the floor more than most on the road that has progressed to the top of the professional game, we caught up with him to talk about how Storelli has helped him and how he sees the future of the game from a truly unique position.
You've brought a strong look to the Storelli roster, what have your first impressions been of the brand?
I've really enjoyed the brand since I started wearing it. My favorite aspect is probably that there is different variations of each product. For training I need the maximum protection, so I wear the GK 3/4 Bodyshield and Sliders and for games I wear the more low key Field Player Sliders.
There are so many football products on the market, do you think that the spot between the sticks is often a neglected position where product is concerned?
The first and sometimes only thing that comes up is what gloves a keepers wears. But our position definitely requires more specialized gear, especially when it comes to protection. If you start counting all the diving we do throughout the week, you look for any help in trying to lessen the beating a goalkeeper's body takes.
There are few positions that take more hits, year after year do you feel that take a toll on your body?
It does, although the body does get used to it after the first few weeks of preseason. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't worry about it. Goalkeepers can play much longer than field players goes the saying, but to achieve that you try to avoid any unnecessary harm that could cut your career short.
It's got to be a mentally tough challenge to keep lifting your game while battling the knocks, has your preparation and approach to a game changed over time?
While gaining experience is vital and great, your body getting older isn't. So you learn to prepare better, for practice and games. You also learn when it's maybe a day to take it easy. As for games, us goalkeepers tend to be a superstitious bunch, so sticking to one's routine is usually key, both physically and mentally.
How does it feel going into a game with the first layer of apparel being Storelli as opposed to how you would suit up before? Does it give you one less thing to distract you on the pitch or worry about?
It's really important to be able to focus and go through all the important rituals. When you know your gear is reliable you can give your undivided attention to the task at hand.
Playing in the MLS All Star game most recently and the team very much holding their own, would you say this shows just how strong the MLS is today?
I think so. You also have to keep in mind that the team barely had any time to prepare for the game. It's still quite the spectacle for the fans, but I wouldn't mind seeing it go back to an East vs West format or something like that. We now have enough skillful players in this league to field two squads and create an awesome experience for the fans.
Some of the world's greatest keepers have developed in the States, what was it like to go out there and find your way to the top of your game in a place where there's such competition for places?
There are good goalkeepers everywhere. In fact, I think it takes multiple good goalkeepers working together to make great goalkeepers. Competition is crucial in pushing athletes to get better. Of course it would be nice and easy to have no competition, but it would be very difficult to improve alone. The U.S. has always enjoyed reliable, good goalkeeping. I would argue that growing up with multiple sports (baseball, football, soccer, basketball, etc) helps develop strong hand-eye coordination, possibly a factor in developing good goalkeepers.
Have you felt the positive swell of the MLS change for the better in your time out there? It's catching a lot of global attention these days...
Absolutely! It's been so exciting seeing the MLS grow. As a player, I can attest to the fact that the play is getting better each year. Off the pitch it's obviously an amazing feeling when my brother in Switzerland tells me that he was able to watch our game on Eurosport.
Back to Storelli and the current lead products. What was your first impression when you saw and worked with the BodyShield Abrasion Leggings?
They look smart as well as offer high performance. It's refreshing to see product that doesn't just perform well but also offers a strong style.
Similarly, with the ExoShield Gladiator Jersey, what catches the eye as you put that on?
It has to be that fresh, unbalanced design of the different colored sleeves. That Gladiator look definitely comes through.
Under the shield you've got a healthy supply of tattoos, any football inspired pieces?
Most of them are all Egyptian pieces (I studied Classical Civilizations in College) but I had to get the first Seattle Sounders star put on. I would have put it right on the chest, but since that space was already full it went on my left hand.
The game has arguably never been a stronger place where style is concerned. Does it give you that extra 1% knowing you can look the part as well as play the part these days?
Confidence is so important for athletes. And as silly as it may sound, if you feel comfortable and good in what you wear, it may raise those levels just a bit. We're always looking to gain an advantage over the opponent, where you find it is irrelevant.
Brands are being more savvy in creating products with a strong look. Those 1% margins between good and great again- does the Storelli mindset match yours would you say?
I've had a number of teammates comment on the GK 3/4 BodyShield, saying that it makes me look like a superhero. I take that as a good thing, plus the fact that it protects me well and doesn't impede certainly makes it a product I want to wear.
You've officially become a U.S. citizen and been called up to an international training camp - it's been a successful few months. Are your eyes locked onto the international scene and making a mark there now?
It would be a huge honor to help Team USA achieve its goals, in whatever capacity that may be. But those amazing opportunities only present themselves if you play well for your club, so how well I play for the Sounders is what I can control and that's where my focus lies.
Although born in Switzerland, are you proud to now be an American so to speak?
Absolutely. I could have become an American citizen a long time ago, but for me the timing wasn't right. Being a citizen of a country should hold a tremendous honor and those strong feelings had to first develop for me. The US is such a unique country because people come from all over the world and bring their own piece of culture and experience with them. Being part of that diverse community makes me very proud.
Finally, you've had some real stand out moments in your career. What have you got your eyes on aspiration-wise? What would you most like to achieve in a years time?
All people keep telling me is "OH THE SAVE" and I appreciate the love and support I get. But I'm still playing now, new goals and dreams to reach. We've won the first MLS Cup for the Sounders, well another one would be sweet too. Or how about the Concacaf Champions League, that would be pretty special. There are so many things that I would love to achieve before I retire, but in the end, if "THE SAVE" will be my legacy, I will be ok with that too :-)
Truly tailored and engineered for the game, the all-new BodyShield Anti-Abrasion Leggings are made with SABR-Tex™ technology which has been created with the specific aim of preventing lower body turf burns and reduce distractions. No fear in throwing yourself around the pitch, it's that product that will shine under the midweek lights in a training environment as well as when it matters most out on the pitch.